Lately.

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Wow, I cannot believe I never noticed that I didn’t post this until now.

The new years fireworks and christmas presents indicate that this is happened not lately, but quite some time ago. I apologise for the general lack of blog posts these past couple of months. With spring finally here and a resolution I made to go out and take more photos, I hope this blog will get more attention as well.

/Christmas lights in Vienna.
/Quality time with books, tea, and my favourite socks, gifted to my by unitedbyblue
/Snowy rides are simply magical.
/One of my favourite Christmas presents. Gentle reminders are much needed.
/Fireworks in front of Karlskirche in Vienna. Stunning backdrop.
/Winter wonderland in my hometown. Grateful for living in such a stunning place.
/Coffee me-time at Jonas Reindl.

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Thank you, 2014

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What a year.

No really: What. A. Year.

So much has happened, so many things that I’ve learnt, so many opportunities that arose, so many people who I’ve met.

I honestly could not be more thankful or appreciative.

I don’t even have words to explain everything that happened this year or how it changed me and helped me become the person I aspire to be.

One of the things that stood out most to me were the people I got to meet this year. I’ve made new friends all over the world. I met inspiring and hardworking people. I was fortunate enough to talk about life and get a glimpse into their view of the world and learn from them. The friendships I made in 2014 are probably the most coveted thing I take with me into the new year.
It’s also how these people made me think about the world differently, how they influenced how I feel and think about myself, how I consequently I carry myself now.

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I originally titled this post “Goodbye, 2014” but no, I don’t want to say goodbye, and thanks to all the crazy memories I will never have to say goodbye. I want to thank you, 2014, for teaching me about myself. For allowing me to be brave, for letting me do things I never had done before and for being patient and encouraging.
When I say 2014, I mean every single person I’ve met, everything I’ve done, every song I’ve heard (and obsessed over), every book I’ve read and every stranger that threw me a dirty look on the street for no apparent reason.

I have a feeling that 2015 will be different in many ways but with what 2014 has taught me, I hope it will be easier for me to navigate through the next year.

So thank you, 2014, it’s been real.

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Los Angeles, I don’t hate you.

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Los Angeles has been an incredible start to an incredible journey and more adventures are to come.

I’ve had so many people beg me to not hate LA and no, I didn’t. In fact, I had a great time, filled with fun activities, laughter, long days, late nights and little sleep. This is how exciting LA was for me.

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/ Disneyland is pure magic.
/ In-n-Out had to happen at one point.
/ If you say you’re too old for Disneyland, you’re lying.
/ Went to see ‘Casablanca’ at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and witnessed a stunning sunset.
/ Huntington Beach. US open, lots of (beautiful) people.
/ Lemonade stands are more authentically american than deep-fried butter. Or so I’ve been told.
/ Little Tokyo.
/ Bottega Louie is a bright place.
/ Perch gives you downtown views while you enjoy great food.
/ Venice Beach has bricks and good coffee.

 

You can follow along via my Instagram account and these hashtags: #TheRoadWander & #OpenRoadThirstyHeart

Zanzibar

In an earlier post, I already hinted at how perfect my weekend trip to Zanzibar was. I still have trouble believing that weekend really happened and, to me, it still seems like it was a beautiful dream, too good to be true.

After spending a little over a month in Dar es Salaam, I was well used to life in Africa. I was used to how buildings looked, how food tasted and what people were like.

Or so I thought.

This all changed drastically when I disembarked from the boat that took me to Stone Town. It was like I was in a totally different country, if not continent. The buildings had an Oriental touch. The rundown facades mixed with the lush plants and gorgeous architecture immediately took my breath away. I could not tear my eyes from the buildings, the doors, the intricate details on fences – I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of Stone Town.

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However, there’s more. The majority of the population is Muslim so there’s an entirely different atmosphere to the island. While the coastal regions of Tanzania are also more muslim than the north, for example, there’s still a very large percentage of Christians. In Stone Town, as we were told, there are about 49 mosques and only two churches. Plus, if you keep your eyes open, you can find a Hindu temple every so often.
This mix of cultures, even though it’s still so very shaped by the Islamic culture, makes for a very unique atmosphere.

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And then there’s the food. Let’s not forget about the food. Sadly, I only stayed for two nights so the possibilities to check out and try more food were limited. However, I don’t think travelers will have any troubles finding something they enjoy. Due to the various influences and the rich history of the island, it’s vastly different from the “usual” African food.

All in all, I cannot recommend a trip to Zanzibar enough. Maybe it was because I only spent such a short time filled with so many brilliant memories. Maybe it’s because I’m absolutely obsessed with interesting architecture, history, and food. Maybe it’s because I find only little more fascinating than the mix of different cultures. Maybe all of this together, but in the end, I don’t think it matters much. I had a gorgeous time I will never, ever forget.

Thank you, Isabel, for joining me on this trip and thank you, GK, for taking us. It was an incredible experience.

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Tips for when you go to Zanzibar

  • Take your passport.

Kind of a no-brainer, I suppose, but super important none the less as Zanzibar does have an immigration desk where you even have to fill out a form. Yes, it’s been part of Tanzania since the 60s but they still have a lot of autonomy. I’ve heard stories about people having trouble getting to Zanzibar due to what kind of visa they had. If you have an ordinary tourist visa and are there for touristic purposes you should have no problems, but still make sure that your visa is in order.

  • Take a reliable ferry.

If you’re going to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, for example, there’s the Asam Fast Ferry. It’s a bit on the pricier side (for African standards at least) but it’s quite fast and safe. I don’t think it’s necessary to tell you to not take a dhow. I guess it’s pretty self-explanatory why going by one of the traditional sailing boats is not a good idea. When you’re near the ferry/speed boat station, people will harass you to no end, offering you the cheapest ticket to go to Zanzibar. If you want to avoid this, do your research before going there so you know where to go and what to buy. This way you can walk with determination and people might back off and leave you alone.

  • Book tours and guides only from sources/offices that seem trustworthy.

There are a bunch of people on the street that offer to take you to a spice tour and whatever else. Please do your research and only book these things with companies that seem trustworthy. These don’t necessarily have to be the big companies, as I’m also all for supporting small agencies, but keep your eyes open and ask a lot of questions before booking to get a feeling of how trustworthy they are. Otherwise you’re just going to be disappointed.

  • Keep your eyes open.

You might feel safer in Zanzibar because there are more tourists. For me, every time I saw other people with similar skin colour I instantly felt a lot safer. Stupid, I know. I tended to let my guard down and, let me tell you, that is not the smartest thing to do.
Yes, there are more tourists in Zanzibar than, let’s say, in Dar es Salaam, but locals know this as well. Take care and keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t take unnecessary risks. In short: don’t let the feeling of familiarity lull you into a false sense of security.

On a slightly different note: take care when eating seafood. I had more than one person fall sick because they ate seafood that wasn’t good anymore. It’s tempting, yes, but have a good look at the place you want to get food from. I usually go by this rule that if you find a lot of locals in a restaurant, bar or food stand, then the food is great. This is, as you should know, my own personal opinion and not at all applicable to every situation.

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[Five things to do in Zanzibar. Posts about my time in Tanzania can be found here.]

Please note the general disclaimer of my travel stories:

All opinions and recommendations on this blog, but especially concerning these travel stories, are solely based upon my own experiences and in no way imply that anyone else will have a similar experience. All travelers are encouraged to use good sense and to keep their eyes open whenever venturing forth into a new place. Please use your common sense and listen to your own instincts.  Each traveling experience is unique to the person having it and I hope you have many!

Coconut butter

I recently saw a tutorial on how to make coconut butter and thought “Well this looks easy enough, let’s give it a try!” I do love almost everything coconut related after all.

It really is super easy to make – you basically put dried coconut flakes in a mixer and mix it until it is a smooth and somewhat liquid mixture. The recipe I used said to add salt by taste, however, I added sugar instead. You could also not add anything at all and just put it on later – that’s really up to you and your personal taste.

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[Above: the first few minutes it looks like this. | Below: the (more or less) finished product.]

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[Above and below: 200g dried coconut made around 1 small jar.]

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[Above and below: Super yummy on toast and with fruit.]

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Note: When the butter dries it gets very hard and it’s best to put it in the microwave for a bit so you can spread it easier. Ergo: don’t use a jar with metal (like the one pictured in the photographs above). Be smart, learn from my mistakes ;-)