A good friend who has lived in London for a while, decided to come back to Belgium. Since I hadn't visited him there, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to go there. Any memories of my visit to London, a long time had been long gone.
Mongolia, a rugged land where traditions of the past are still practiced today by enduring and hardy nomads who conquer the vast steppes and deserts.
A couple of years ago I went to the Naadam, a Mongolian traditional festival, in Antwerp and was quite fascinated by the Mongolian throat singers. Since then the idea of visiting this special country had been in the back of my mind. Then some friends joined in on the idea, and after some discussion we decided that organizing it ourselves would take too much effort, and we went to joker and asked them to do it all for us.
The trip is split into three parts
- Ulaanbaatar and the Terelj National Park, where we do some superficial UB exploring and bike through fields and on roads,
- The two-week road trip through Mongolia, during which we crossed the provinces Töv, Bulgan, Arkhangai, Övörkhangai and Dundgovi (visiting cities with roaring names such as Three Springs, or Nine Things) in two old Russian vans, and
- Ulaanbaatar and Naadam festival where we dive deeper into the capital and its festivities, and have a short visit to Moscow!
Read on, for some more information on Mongolia or click on one of the above links for the adventures! read more...
Aah, Rome, Caput Mundi! A friend asked me if I wanted to join in on a trip to Rome. As my Roman knowledge (of my Latin class which taught me a lot about ancient Rome and its customs), my long-ago visit to Rome were fading so horribly from memory and my Italian could use some practice, I decided Roma deserved another visit!
So, welcome to Italia!
According to the legend, firstly written down by the Roman writer Virgil, the city was founded on 21st of April 753 BC. Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of god of war Mars and Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia, the twins were left to die in a reed basket on the river Tiber, after their mother was killed. However, they were really lucky, as they floated safely to the bank, where a wolf finds and feeds them for a while, until they are discovered by a shepherd. Much later, they decided to found a new city on the Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, which form the heart of the city, and were very important in Roman mythology, religion and politics. And then, Romulus killed Remus, and became the first king of Rome.
A while ago, I got the offer to join a group of people that was going to travel to Iceland, during my university's closing week. An offer I couldn't refuse, as I had nothing planned (even if I had something planned, I might have skipped it :p), and this was just the perfect opportunity to explore this country whose beauty is often heard of, but probably only known for its elves, dóttirs and sons, its almost bankruptcy during the financial crash and that volcano that paralyzed air travel in large parts of Europe in 2010.
Let us first introduce Iceland a bit, but as this post already is quite long, I'll keep it down to one sentence!
A while ago I submitted a paper to a PhD workshop AIMS, and it got accepted. As it was to be held in Brno, a place I've visited before as part of my explorations in Czech Republic, I decided to go afterwards to Slovakia, as it's a relatively small country, right next door.
It all starts at an early Saturday morning, at 5:25, when my alarm went off. It was the first time I used my tablet as my alarm. I couldn't figure out how to disable it, so I just shut it down (that'll teach him!) and went to take a shower. After I exited the shower, I suddenly heard the alarm sounding, as if nothing had happened. This time I was able to turn it off, but until this day I don't know how.
Just having finished a batch of work, and easter holidays. What more reason does one need to go out and see a little bit of the world?
As I didn't want too much hassle of moving to my destination, the plane was already left out, and the feasible options were reduced more or less to the train. Checking the trains from Belgium to somewhere else, I thought about going to Lille. Good connection, and a cheap ride. That's the way I like it :)
Lille is next to Belgium, and although it is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais region and the prefecture of the Nord department. In 2008 Lille got a lot of attention due to the film Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis which broke La Grande Vadrouille's record of 17 million admissions, which spawned interest in tourism since. It is not too big of a place, so I could explore it all, at an easy pace.
My train of 9.55 a.m. was right on time. At the site and when buying my ticket (one-way, as I had no idea yet when I'd return) it was said that the train only went to Mouscron. From there on, there was a bus that'd take us to the Lille-Flandres station. However, on the train they said it was a direct connection to Lille-Flandres (they even called for it in the morning to confirm), however, before arrival they corrected themselves. Excellent communication :/ A whole slew of people were already waiting for the 11.40 a.m. bus, but it let us wait for about half an hour.
Previous year, during a trip of Sweden, Finland and Estonia I did with a friend, we also had our first steps in couch surfing with Sara in Tampere and Annika in Tallinn, both marvellous persons. But, as Annika was studying and living in a not-to-big city in Denmark, called Aalborg and we had a couple of free days between New Year and the start of the working year, we decided to have a quick trip and visit her.
This is the fifth part of my travels in Czech Republic. The bus took me here from [Brno](/2013/08/10/czech-brno ).
Going from České Budějovice to Český Krumlov proved to be easy as pie, and soon I found myself in Český Krumlov.
Český Krumlov is situated along the Vltava river, and is mainly known for its beautifull inner town and castle.
It came into existence in the 13th century and grew around the castle, and features Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Because of the well preservedness for over five centuries, and its typicalness for a small central European medieval town, it's enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
As I left the bus, I had no idea yet where to sleep, but just entering the pueblito there was already hostel 99 seeking my attention with it's cosy interior and fair price. I got myself a bed in the roof and started exploring the city!
While I was enjoying the wonderful scenery the train stops at a station, way sooner than expected, and suddenly everybody leaves the train. Surprised, I ask a backpacker girl what's happening, and she says were switching to bus now. There's buses to Brno, and Brno hl.n — which one to take? I went for the hl.n one, and arrived where I wanted to be :)
It was a touring bus with popular nineties music piercing through the speakers. Luckily the Moravian scenery remained as impressive as from the train, with wild bambis jumping through the wide fields.
Brno is the biggest city in Moravia (eastern region), and the second biggest one in whole of Czech Republic. Hence, it's the political and cultural center of the Moravia.
After the Industrial Revolution it became one of the Austrian industrial centers. Even this day it has one of the main weaponfactories in Europe.