As January came to a close I was getting very anxious. I had some holidays left that I needed to use before the end of April and we had no concrete travel plans whatsoever. March- April is a bit of a difficult period to fix a destination. Not yet really spring in most of the Northern Hemisphere and rainy season in quite a number of places on the Southern Hemisphere. We kept going around in circles, so I decided to pull out our favourite ‘Where to travel when’ book for some guidance once more. One picture immediately caught my attention as I opened the book to the April chapter. A picture of what seemed like ‘mother nature on XTC’. An explosion of thousands of small white and pink flowers against a blue sky: the famous ‘Sakura’ or Japanese cherry blossoms in full bloom. Sometimes all it takes is one picture to make me want to travel somewhere… Continue reading
Hands up everybody who can place the islands of Vanuatu on the map or who can tell us why one should go there. Don’t worry if you can’t. Until about a year ago, the only thing I knew about it was that it was not too far from Fiji and that they had some rather bizarre ‘religions/cults’ there. Vanuatu wasn’t on our itinerary until about a couple of months before we left. While finalizing the travel plan, I was going through a book that I had gotten from a friend (thanks Annelies!) some years ago. This interesting ‘where to travel and when’ book lists for every month of the year the best places to visit based on climate and special events. For April or May one of the highlights was Vanuatu. The major event taking place in Vanuatu at that time are the ‘Naghol’ aka ‘land divers’ aka ‘the authentic bungee jumping’. As we were more or less ‘in the neighbourhood’ around that time, we decided to make a side trip from Australia. It would turn out to be one crazy week with much more than only the ‘land divers’ Continue reading
Nearly seven years ago I visited New Zealand for the first time. In a bit less than a month I travelled all around the country on both North and South Islands. A month may seem like a long time but it is not nearly long enough to see the whole of New Zealand (NZ). To everyone planning to go there, I would suggest to foresee at least 1,5 month: three weeks for the North and four weeks for the South Island. If not you will probably end up like me rushing through the country and constantly making mental notes “I have to come back here to do this and there to do that”. The reason why I chose to come back to NZ on this trip was precisely that: filling in the gaps, doing those things I didn’t get to do last time. With only 3 weeks and a pretty long list we would need to be quick and flexible.
“Jacques Brel s’en va aux Marquises” . It was one of the lines printed on a t shirt I received from my father for my 14th birthday. It was one of those shirts with a number of main events that happened in the year of one’s birth. Freely translated it means something like “Jacques Brel is leaving us at the Marquises”. In 1978 the famous Belgian singer died and was buried on the Marquesas islands. At the time I didn’t like that present at all mainly because it was in French and thanks to a not so great French teacher, I really hated that language. But a little older and a little wiser, a couple of years later I found back the shirt and got intrigued about this place where our national icon Brel spent his last years. I looked up what these Marquesas were like and it seemed like an interesting place. Something to visit some day…
As we arrived in Tahiti, I realized this the furthest I have ever been away from home. It is actually about as far away as one can get from Europe. If we fly any further westward we will be closing in on Belgium from the east. So why would anybody want to travel that far to visit some small islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? I suggest you google ‘Bora Bora’ and choose ‘images’. A number of gorgeous pictures of a lush green island surrounded by a lagoon in all diffent shades of blue; from turquoise, over indigo to navy blue. It does look like paradise doesn’t it? Most budget travellers that come here only spent a couple of days on the main Island of Tahiti and or the neighbouring Mo’orea, tick the box for ‘French Polynesia’ on their ‘travel CV’ and quickly hop back on a plane that will take them to either New Zealand, Australia or Chile/Easter Island. Why this rush? This has all to do with the reputation of French Polynesia of being a ‘high end’, ‘super expensive’ destination.
As a kid I once saw a picture of one of the huge Easter Island statues and I got really intrigued. The picture was part of a scientific article dealing with all the mysteries surrounding the island, its people and the statues. I remember my mom made a summary of the article but unfortunately, I had a lot more questions than there were answers in the article. When some time later I saw those intriguing statues appear again in my then favourite Belgian comic book (Suske & Wiske: De Windbrekers), I decided that someday I would travel to the island to find some answers. A look in my world atlas slightly tempered my enthusiasm as this little island seemed to be a bit further away than let’s say Switzerland where we spent our summer holidays and which already seemed to take ages to get to. But some day… Continue reading
Patagonia had the very ungrateful task of welcoming us after we had been completely awe struck by Antarctica. But Patagonia is definitely up for such a challenge. This huge region with plains that stretch out far beyond the horizon, awesome mountain peaks and winds that can knock a grown man down is the stuff of legends. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Che Guevara on his motorcycle it has attracted adventurers, eccentrics and outcasts for centuries. These days it is tourist central during the summer months with crowds of tour groups that fly in and out to check out glaciers and mountains. But no worries the place is huge and even in the most visited regions one can still find some quite places to take it all in. Continue reading
Although I try not to overdo it, I know I have been throwing some superlatives at you in previous blog posts but I think this post might be the mother of all superlatives because our trip to Antarctica really was the best thing we have ever done. Looking back at it all, you really wonder if life will ever get better than those couple of days we spent cruising through the Antarctica. Ever since I read an article of a Belgian reporter visiting Antarctica on one of the first ‘tourist expeditions’ many years ago, it has always been my dream to one day be able to do the same. Unfortunately these expeditions are really, really expensive.
First things first: all our best wishes for 2013 to our loyal followers. I’m not the biggest fan of big New Year parties. Except for a couple of memorable parties during my student times these parties usually turn out to be a bit of a let-down, much ado about nothing. But a year must end someday and we wanted to be in a ‘special place’ for this trip. I guess the most famous places to be for New Year are Sydney, London, Berlin, New York and Rio de Janeiro. 6 years ago I was in Australia for New Year but on purpose avoided all the craziness (and high prices) of the party in Sydney and spent the night with friends in the middle of nowhere in the Australian bush. Although we had a great time, I regretted not having been in Sydney when I saw the fireworks on TV afterwards. So this time I wanted to be in the middle of the action. Continue reading
“The best thing we did in Africa “, “A real safari!”, “A must-do in Southern Africa”. In preparation of this trip I had been reading the reports of a number of ‘long time’ Africa travellers. A lot of them had been raving about this canoe trekking safari. The pictures I saw looked spectacular but nothing compared to what awaited us on the Zambezi river. There was however also a number of reports on accidents that had happened on the river. Continue reading