I've been on the lookout for the Northern Lights for a while, and haved missed them a couple of times. When a friend asked if I wanted to go dog sledging in Finland, I thought this was a great opportunity to possibly finish my quest for the immer eluding Aurora Borealis, and at the same time experience the quite unique mushing, ice cold weather and lots of snow.
University was closed for the Day of the Flemish Community. The weather was good, birds were tsjirping, my legs were aching for some action. And that's when I decided to do a large bike trip. After some deliberation on remote-but-not-to-remote places, I decided to go for Tilburg, a city in the Netherlands, about 100km from where I live.
Tilburg is a large city of more than 200 thousand inhabitants in southern Netherlands. Tilburg already had a castle in the late medieval times, but it wasn't until the 18th century, when Napoleon gave Tilburg city rights, that it became a city of some importance. During the Industrial Revolution it became more of a mayor city, when wool factories were constructed, making it the wool and textile city of the Netherlands 1. After the second World War, it would hold the position but the economy imploded due fewer government money being poured into Tilburg.
Culturally, Tilburg houses two concert halls, three theaters, three cinemas, and some jazz bars and other smaller music venues. Besides the famous modern art 'De Pont' museum, it also has a museum about textile and many galleries and local artists.
Now that we got Tilburg covered a little, theoretically, it was time for the real thing. After some preparations, I left on Sunday around half past twelve.
3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Go!
- As wool was treated with urine during the process, employees had to bring a bottle of urine to work every day, giving the nickname of Kruikezeikers, those who piss into a jar, to the Tilburgers
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.