Archive for the ‘Trips far far away…’ Category

Kuwait (part 3.)

April 18, 2013

There is a green part to the city. It’s what you might call the gardening centre – a row of plant nursery shops in the Al-Rai area (Fourth Ring Road).

You can go and buy yourself a couple of lemon trees (which die within a couple of months because none of the family members can be bothered to regularly spray them with water). Or you point your finger to a huge palm which is then dug up and can be planted right in front of your own house.

gardening centre kuwait

You can do it with kids, too

July 26, 2012

Travelling. Discovering new places. Wandering around blissfully. I’d like to be able to it when I have kids. Some people have not only tried – they do it successfully. Well done, Family without Borders! You’re an inspiration.

I fell in love with Chicago

July 22, 2012

There is no way you could resist this city’s charm. I’m not surprised any more so many people want to live here.

It’s at a lake and boasts beautiful shore line and beaches. It’s so pleasant to walk along the river and look at the bridges as you go past – or take a water taxi. You can watch the city from above while riding the L (elevated trams). It has the Hancock Center on top of Sears Tower. The steak houses here serve the juiciest pieces of cow.  The Magnificent Mile lets you shop till you drop. And just to mention – when it comes to weather, they have four seasons. This is their summer; winter temperatures are on the other end of the scale! However, I was just a tourist, what do I know?

And perhaps I loved the city because I was there with my husband? The same thing happened when we went for the first time together to London.

A city at a lake

July 7, 2012

It is an exhilarating feeling – to run along the Chicago Lakefront Path at 8 a.m. in bright sunlight, only to dip in Michigan Lake minutes later, and then walk back down the Magnificent Mile, with a wet towel hanging from your shoulder.

Well, I am lucky enough for this to have been my morning today.


Kuwait (part 2.)

April 17, 2012

While in Kuwait, I very much enjoyed the Middle-Eastern food, although admittedly I love good food in general.

In the shops you can get various kinds of bread (khubz/ khubiz), my favourite, however, can be found in tiny local bakeries, sold crunchy and hot, taken straight out of a clay oven.

For dinner the most popular are chicken dishes and veal or lamb kebab. This can be eaten with bread, lentils, beans, salad, sambosa and so on.

Then there is fruit. The dates you get here are nothing like the packets sold in European supermarkets – they are big, juicy and come in tens of varieties. I have also tried knar which is the fruit of cedar tree.

The sweets here are exquisite. The local delicacy I cannot get enough of is knafa (or kunafa) with a soft cheesy centre wrapped in special orange pastry, drenched in sweet syrup and sprinkled with pistachios. It is served warm. I also love baklava. If this is not enough, you can have one of the masterpiece cakes from self-established Mr Baker (sadly, the company’s founder and owner died tragically last week).

Kuwait (part 1.)

March 21, 2012

What I liked most about Kuwait was the variety of architectural styles. Driving along endless highways, you see magnificent houses. No two are the same. If only they could have lavish gardens attached!

06-01-12 in Rome

February 13, 2012

Grey skies over Scotland.  Longing for sun, I’m pulling out some photos taken last month: January in Rome, bright colours, 15 degrees Celsius. Tonight, fortunately, a warm bath and an orange-scented body wash were enough to lift my spirits. It would be a bit expensive to go to sunny Rome every time Edinburgh manifests its gloomy, dreary face.



Souvenir from Rome

February 5, 2012

While in Rome, we bought an AS Roma frying pan. We found it on sale in a supermarket, it cost an incredible price of 5 euro. It proved most useful!

We were planning to discover and relish Italian food, however, it appeared Rome is not the best place for it. Restaurants sell overpriced, tourist-aimed food and the experience proved not to be worth the stress (e.g. did we pick the right place?) or the money (e.g. a main course might actually comprise of a single piece of meat – vegetables or sides have to be ordered separately).

In the same supermarket we got some beautiful steak which we then fried in the said pan (in our B&B’s kitchen). Yumm. There will be another time to try proper deliciout Italian food, and that time will not be in Rome.

As for the pan – it came with us to Edinburgh and keeps being used in the kitchen!




“Welcome to Paradise” lost on British tourism industry?

November 19, 2011

Recently I read an article about tourism and Jennie Dielemans’ book (or report) Welcome to Paradise. It’s gist is, all-inclusive holidays are the most harmful form of holidaying (although tourists spend time in an exotic country, 80% of income goes to head office in London; the locals work in low paid jobs; local people don’t have access to beaches etc.). Backpackers were also slated – for seeking out ‘undiscovered’ places and spoiling them with full moon parties, for having no respect for the natives.

We can make up for our hitherto ignorance by booking accommodation that is owned by the locals, eating in local restaurants and buying food supplies in local stores, and by not haggling till last penny when buying gifts.

What’s interesting, rights to Dielemans’ book have been sold to Estonia, Finland, Italy, Poland and Sweden but not to a British publisher. Perhaps British tourism industry, as well as its clientele, are not ready for it, yet? Well, I think if the travellers are conscious enough of certain issues to strive to offset the carbon emission of their journey or hotel stay  – I think they are ready to ditch the all-inclusives, too. But is the tourism industry ready to take the hit? – that I’m not sure of.


May 8, 2011

The story is indeed fantastic: Neuschwanstein castle was built by Bavarian king Ludgwig II. The king was fascinated (if not madly obsessed) with Richard Wagner’s work, especially an opera telling the story of knight Lohengrin accompanied by a swan on his mission to rescue princess Elsa.

According to medieval German legends, Lohengrin was a knight of the Holy Grail. He sets out to protect a princess, whose kingdom could otherwise fall prey to neighbouring rulers after her father died without leaving a male heir. The knight travels on a boat pulled by a swan – at the end of the journey the swan proves to be a young man under a spell and is turned back into a human.  Lohengrin is able to defend the kingdom with help of mystical powers which last as long as the princess does not know his name or provenance. One day princess Elsa asks the forbidden question and Lohengrin has to leave, never to return again.

The symbolic swan can be seen in many places in the caste: as an ornament of chandeliers, tableware, furniture. The story of Lohengrin was depicted on the walls of the drawing room in the castle, and murals from the story of Parsival (his father) and the Holy Grail adorn walls in the Singers’ Hall.

Schloss Neuschwanstein was inspired by the castle of Wartburg near Eisenach and served in turn as a model for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle.

The story of Ludwig II himself is even more interesting but would take at least a couple of hours to tell.