Week 52 – Helsinki for my birthday!

Another tick off the country list! That makes 41 visited now πŸ™‚

I decided to be completely spontaneous and totally random for my birthday / new year this year (er, make that 2018… delayed publishing of this post, sorry!) and I ended up in Helsinki with my friend La La.

It was cold. It snowed. It was the best fun!

We didn’t have much planned other than just hanging out in Helsinki because:

  • We didn’t book enough of a holiday to venture up further north to try see the northern lights
  • We just wanted to enjoy the cold and snow and do something a bit random for new year

Helsinki itself doesn’t have much to do and is very easily doable in 3 or 4 days… even if parts of those days are filled with snow, or raining, or only consist of 6 hours of sunlight πŸ˜›

Prior to arrival we purchased the Helsinki Card which gives you unlimited access to public transport, includes a sightseeing tour, and offers discounts on entry at various museums etc., as well as discounts on restaurants, shopping etc.

Helsinki is a relatively small city center and you’re pretty much able to walk everywhere, but having the tram use is a big help when you’ve been walking for hours and all you want is to get back to your hotel room and put your feet up as it starts getting dark at 4pm.

There are many bars and pubs and restaurants around the city center, with most of them offering interesting cocktails or shot creations… it’s just a matter of finding some of them as they’re not in-your-face advertised – but we found that to be part of their charm!

For New Year we decided to try out the free-entry gathering on Senate Square where they had bands and DJ’s performing all night, with a spectacular fireworks display at midnight. Everything is in Finnish though, so unless you speak the language, don’t plan on understanding anything they’re saying, or singing to you πŸ˜‰

Definitely goes down as one of my favourite holidays – just so completely random, and filled with snow!

Week 50 – Red Ivory wedding venue

I’m becoming quite the pro at fly-in visits to family & friends – especially if there’s a wedding involved. And this past week was no exception!

Family-friends of my family (?!) got married in South Africa (coz that’s where they’re from, and live), in Johannesburg, at a place called Red Ivory. And boy was it spectacular! And lots of fun!

I don’t have much to say for this blog post (saving my words for my degree πŸ˜‰ ) but the photos should do it justice. Enjoy πŸ™‚

Week 28 – Family time in Zanzibar!

UGH! So much for me trying to play catch-up on my something new posts… I’m currently sitting at 3, almost 4 weeks behindΒ πŸ™ˆΒ Bear with me, please… I’ll get there!

So, before I begin I have to disclaim that Zanzibar is not the topic of my something new for week of 8 – 14 July because I did this last year πŸ™‚

The actual topic of the something new is the stuff that I got up to on the holiday, as well as the hotel stayed in.

New stuff:Β 
– We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton, Nungwi
– We visited the turtle sanctuary in Nungwi, and fed turtles
– We went on a spice tour while out on our Stone Town tour (walked around Stone Town last year but didn’t do an actual ‘tour’)
– We had lunch with our tour guide, at his mom’s house, eating food that his sister had cooked!

On this holiday, we booked an all-inclusive package at the hotel which meant that all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks), as well as all drinks (alcoholic and non) were included all day, every day. So this meant that we didn’t spend a lot of time out of the hotel trying out other restaurants etc.
We did have a cocktail on the beach one afternoon, and of course the day in Stone Town involved lunch at our guides’ mom’s house… but other than that it was all at the hotel.

And I have zero complaints about it!
The food was always really well-prepared; the buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner changed all the time (theme nights for dinner everyday!); the a la carte options were enough to give variety; and the beers were always cold!

When we visited the turtle sanctuary, we met Azizi – our soon-to-be tour guide πŸ™‚
He works at the turtle sanctuary where they catch turtles that are injured, sick etc., as well as hatchlings that won’t be able to fare for themselves. They then care for these guys in various stages, and once they’re sure they’re safe to be returned to the sea, they have annual ‘release days’ where everyone can join in.

A couple of days later we were picked up from the hotel and taken through to Prison Island for a quick tour, and then Azizi took us on a tour of Stone Town, followed by lunch at his mom’s house. It was an experience that I would highly recommend to anyone travelling there – the locals are all supremely friendly and want to share their stories with you.
After that we went off to the spice tour. This was super interesting, getting a chance to smell some things in their purest form – for example cinnamon. The tree that it comes from has 2 very distinct smells to it: 1) the roots smell like vicks and 2) the bark smells like cinnamon.

The rest of the holiday was exactly what Zanzibar is so good at offering – total chill and relaxation, perfectly blue waters, and lots of fun and laughter with family and friends πŸ™‚ ❀

Here are a bunch more random pics that were taken on the holiday – enjoy πŸ™‚