Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Visiting the British Museum in London

British Museum
One of the best kept secrets of London is the British Museum located in Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG. Every time I visit London, I make a point of it to make a turn at this outstanding museum. I've probably visited this museum more times than many locals. The great thing about it, is that there is no admission fee. You are however asked to leave a donation.

This museum has got some of the most historic art treasures in the world. From the Rosetta stone to the Elgin Marbles, it has got it all. The central quad of the museum was covered in time for Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee in 2001/2002, providing an excellent area to take breather from all the fantastic artifacts you are exposed to.

The Contentious Elgin Marbles.

The museum has got a great Egyptian collection with an especially good collection of huge granite statues. This collection spans from the 1st Dynasty all the way to post the 26th Dynasty, going into the Ptolemaic period.

Egyptian Statue

Rosetta Stone

There is also some great Hellenistic collections including the Nereid Monument from Xanthos in classical period Lycia, which is in modern day Turkey. There also some beautiful statues from a site in located in modern day Bodrum, Turkey.
Nereid Monument
Statues from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

There are also some great Roman artifacts including a whole gallery focusing on Roman Britain.
Roman Statue
Roman Bronze head of a man.

All in all the British Museum is worth a visit if you are passionate about anything from Art to History or even if you are in need of a great outing with your kids!See below some of my photos taken in the museum.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Is Turkey a Good Backpacking Destination?

 Façade of the Celsus library,
in Ephesus, near Selçuk, west Turkey.
 - Wikimedia Commons.
I've always wondered if Turkey is a good destination for backpackers. I've never visited the country and would really want to know what other travelers have experienced in the big Turkish cities like Istanbul, Bodrum and Ankara?

I've been fascinated by all the historical sites located in Turkey, for example Troy, Ephesus and many other ancient Greek sites. Turkey is also well known for leather goods, Carpets and many other sought after products.

Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Thanks in advance.

Monday, 8 September 2014

London Backpackers and Hostel Accommodation

London Backpackers and Hostels are still up there in quality, if you are looking for budget accommodation in the British capital. The main aim when it comes to backpacking, is to see the world and NOT spend an arm and a leg on expensive accommodation. London can be quite an expensive destination, but if you do your planning right and you know of all the things you can do in London for free, then those hard earned Pounds, Dollars  or Yens can be stretched quite far!

I've put the following summary together of links that you can use, to assist you when you are planning a trip to London:

  1. Search and book affordable London Hotel Accommodation or
  2. Search and book a great hostel in London on Hostelworld. or
  3. Search and book a great hostel in London on Hostelbookers.
  4. Plan your London Itinerary by first focusing on free attractions as well as on events happening while you will be visiting London.
  5. Add to your Itinerary the sites that you want to visit that will cost you money. Look at purchasing a London Pass if you want to visit a lot of the sites. It is quite costly +- £49.00 for an Adult pass, but it is worthwhile and cost effective if you want to go to a lot of sites.
  6. Ensure you have got all the details available on how the London Travel system  works. (Tube, Train etc.) The following site can be used to shop for cheap rail ticket across the UK.
  7. For entertainment, you should include an outing to one of London's many theaters. You can book discount tickets in advance at londontheatredirect.com.

London is also a good hub from where you can start a backpacking trip to continental Europe. One of the best options when you are a first time backpacker and you want to see Europe without the worry of missing trains, planes etc. is to book a trip on the Busabout "Hop-on - Hop off" network. Busabout is geared for  independent travelers from 18 to 80!

I've visited London many times. The fusion of cultures in this world metropolis refreshes one with every visit. I must however confess, I do prefer to experience England in London. The Imperial buildings from the days of Empire really makes London. The days when London was the capital of a great empire is still visible in the city today. The parks are great. The Transport, especially the Underground system is efficient and clean and the locals are friendly (from whatever culture they may be!)

See below some of the photos I took during my last trip to London.
St Pauls Cathedral viewed from South bank of River Thames.
Statue of General Smuts close to Houses of
Shakespeare's Globe Theater. 

London's Transport System - Waterloo Station Platform

Great War Memorial

View of the River Thames

South Africa House on Trafalgar Square
Tallest Building in London
The Shard.

Tower Bridge

Trafalgar Square

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Best Cape Town Backpackers and Hostels.

National Gallery of South Africa with statue of
Field Marshal Smuts in the forefront.
Backpacking through Africa, can be a very exciting experience. One the best organised countries when it comes to backpacking is South Africa. The most popular city for backpackers in South Africa is Cape Town.

Cape Town, a treasure trove of natural beauty and diversity. This city has got everything, from first world grandeur to third world poverty. It has got the sophistication of Europe mixed with the vibrancy of Africa. So be prepared for a life changing experience.

There are many accommodation options when it comes to visiting Cape Town. There are many hostels (or backpackers as it is called locally) in and around Cape Town and the surrounding towns located in the famed Cape Winelands. There are also many fantastic quality hotels at extremely favourable prices.

Cape Town has got many interesting attractions including the Waterfront, the Cape Town Castle and also the gateway to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spend 27 years in jail.

Search for great accommodation in Cape Town 

 Please see below some photo of some of the attractions.

Statue of Cecil John Rhodes pointing to
North Africa.
National Library of South Africa (1818) with
Statue of Sir George Grey in front. 

Tuynhuys - Official Cape Town office of the
President of South Africa.

Cesky Krumlov, Great Backpacker's Destination in Central Europe.

Cesky Krumlov, Town View - Wikimedia Commons
Cesky Krumlov has been voted as a top back packing destination for many years. I've decided to have a look as to what makes this city such a favorite destination for tourists, young and old. So let us first have a look at the history of this classical Bohemian city. Cesky was founded in the 13th century at a crossing in the Vltava River. This area was important for traders and as such the town started to flourish. 

Cesky Krumlov, Castle - Wikimedia Commons
Part of the building of the town also included the building of a huge castle, called the Český Krumlov Castle. The town and castle have been owned by many many noble families over the centuries including the House of RosenbergHouse of Eggenberg and the House of Schwarzenberg. During the Second World War the Nazi's annexed the city, as part of the Sudetenland "Lebensraum" experiment. After 1945 the town fell within the communist republic of Czechoslovakia and it started to deteriorate. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the city has been splendidly repaired to its former beauty.

Church of St. Vitus- Wikimedia Commons
The city can boast with beautiful scenery. It is an authentic Medieval town with a beautiful castle and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The castle has got a lot of sights including an authentic 17th century theater. The castle garden is a sight to behold. There is a beautiful 15th century Gothic church, the Church of St. Vitus with beautiful frescoes.

If the city is one ingredient that draws the crowds, then the inhabitants of the town is the other. The town has got many festivals during the year with the Five-Petalled Rose Festival the most popular.  This is held on the weekend of summer solstice in June and the central part of town is recreated back into a medieval look and feel. Various medieval entertainment activities like jousting is held and the festival is ended with a huge fireworks display above the castle.

All in All, Cesky Krumlov is a unique destination that has stood the test of time and you will surely leave the city culturally richer than when you arrived. 

Cesky Krumlov, has got fantastic accommodation available for all kinds of tourists and it is definitely one of the best places to use as a base to explore the greater Bohemia.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

From Mud Through Blood To the Green Fields beyond.

Royal Tank Regiment
While walking through the streets of London, I discovered this beautiful statue dedicated to the Royal Tank Regiment. I've never heard of this regiment, so I had a bit of a research session and found the following. This regiment became necessary with the advent of tanks. It was officially founded on the 28th of July 1917 and has been a regiment ever since. This is just one statue that you will see while walking the streets of London. If you like history then a visit to London will be a must.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Visiting, Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands of South Africa.

Mountains around Stellenbosch
I recently had the privilege to visit the town of Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. This town is in, what is called the Cape Winelands and is surrounded by beautiful wine estates and many mountains, reminding one of the Alps, in Switzerland. Stellenbosch, was founded by the Dutch in 1679 (just a couple of years after the Dutch founded New York!). I will report at a later stage about the things to do in the town, but today I am going to show you some of the beautiful scenery found in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. I had the opportunity to go and walk in the reserve and I am not exaggerating when I say that the scenery was breathtaking and the plant life resembling a garden of Eden.
If you are interested in visiting the town and you are in need of accommodation, then you can either look for hotels in Stellenbosch, or stay in Cape Town which is only about 35 kilometers from Stellenbosch.

Some scenenary from the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Accommodation in Luxor, Egypt.

Nile Cruise - Image Copyright TheSpecialist
Visiting the ancient land of Egypt, has been my dream since very young. I've managed to realize my dream twice already, visiting this country on two occasions. Once during a stop over flight on Egypt Air and once on a fully fledged tour that included a Nile Cruise. One of the key cities when visiting Egypt is the city of Luxor. Luxor (Ancient Thebes) has got many attractions including the following:

Valley of the Kings - Image Copyright Wikimedia 

The most important aspect when travelling to Egypt, is to ensure that you are booked into a 4 or 5 star hotel as the ratings in Egypt are not a 100% guarantee of quality. This is even more important if you are a backpacker in Egypt. You don't want to pick up a tummy bug as a result of bad hotel quality. It is important to keep healthy when travelling in Egypt. The good news, staying in Luxor, is that there are ample quality hotels, as well as, pharmacies and hospitals in case you do need help

Temple of Karnak - Image Copyright Wikimedia

However, you are probably reading this post to know more about Luxor and its accommodation options.

  • You can visit the following page Egyptian Travel Tips and Advice to learn more about Egypt as a tourist destination. This page has also got links to the United States and United Kingdom Travel Advisories providing updates on the latest security situation in Egypt.
  • To see great Hotel options in Luxor you can visit the Luxor Hotels page.

Camping in Florence, Italy.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Best Budget Accommodation in Geneva, Switzerland.

If you are going to backpack in Europe, then there is a good chance that you will have to travel through Switzerland. One of the best cities to stay in Switzerland is Geneva. I visited this city a couple of years ago, just as the city was in the full throws of the Festival for the Animals("Fete des Animaux"), to collect money for the local SPCA. We had an an absolute surreal experience in this very influential European city. The weather was beautiful and we were treated to the most fantastic animal displays on the lake. It really made us miss our pets at home. There were a lot of life saving demonstrations with huge black dogs, bringing guys "drowning" to safety on the shore. We were also treated to parades around the lake by various groups, which looked to be representing the various Cantons of Switzerland.

Every year there are various festivals in Geneva, with the big one in 2014, the Fêtes de Genève from 17 July to 10 August 2014.

City Hostel Geneva

City Hostel Geneva

So you might say, ok, all good and well to share some of the festivals of this beautiful city, but where is the cheapest and best place to stay, in this very expensive city (Rated +- 4th most expensive in the world in 2011). The one thing that makes Switzerland stand out from the rest of Europe, is how clean and sterile everything is. This is also true of the City Hostel Geneva. We stayed there during our visit to the city and this was really one of the best places we stayed in during our travels in Europe. All the amenities are top notch and the staff were very friendly. You can read more about the hostel as well as directions to it at the following link City Hostel Geneva.

City Hostel Geneva
You can also search for other Geneva accommodation as there are a lot of hotels in the city that does offer great specials from time to time.

This city has got a lot of warmth for visitors. We felt right at home.

See below some images from Geneva.
View of Geneva with the Jet d'Eau in the top left corner.
Image Copyright Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 2 May 2014

Cheap Hotels to Stay in Paris.

Sacre Coeur - Copyright Wikimedia Commons
If you are travelling to Paris, France as part of your backpacking adventure, then you can find some great reviews on Best Affordable Paris Backpacker Accommodation 2014. This page provide good quality hotels at very affordable prices. The important thing when visiting Paris is to decide in which of the 20 arrondissements (Municipal Area) you would want to stay. The cheap accommodation is usually available in the artist area of Montmartre which is the 18th arrondissement. If you want to be closer to the River Seine then you need to look in the 3rd arrondissement.

Have a look at Best Affordable Paris Backpacker Accommodation 2014

Monday, 21 April 2014

My visit to the Rocks on Paarl Mountain in South Africa.

View of  Gordon's Rock on Paarl Mountain, South Africa
This has been one of the greatest sites I've ever visited on the planet. This hidden gem of nature. It is an absolute must for any nature-traveler to visit the glorious granite rocks of Paarl. Charles Darwin visited these rocks on the 4th of June 1836 during his Beagle expedition and he must have been as amazed as I, seeing these products of nature. Walking on these remnants of volcanic activity just re-affirms how great this world of ours is and what great wonders there are, all around us. It also showed me how great it is to travel and to discover and experience these wonders.

There are three massive granite rock outcrops on the Paarl Mountain, namely Bretagne Rock, Paarl Rock and Gordon's Rock. The biggest rock accessible to the public is Bretagne Rock. It has a chain running up to the top, to assist us normal folk in ascending this jewel of South Africa. The chain was added to the rock in 1925 to assist the then Prince of Wales, Edward to ascend it.
See Below more photos of this beautiful location.

Bretagne Rock from below.
Another view of Bretagne Rock.
Gordon's and Bretagne Rocks from Paarl Rock.

Bolder on Paarl Rock.

One of the views from Paarl Rock.