Sunday Special – Chefchaouen, Morocco


A – B – SEE! Our alphabet tour continues to Chefchaouen in northern Morocco. My sister, some friends, and I have chatted about going Morocco, perhaps next year, and Chefchaouen is on the list!!

Nicknamed “The Blue City” as many of the buildings are painted in various hues of blue, it is set against the backdrop of the Rif Mountains and is located not far from Tangiers. This popular tourist locale seems to be perfect for wandering. Visit the Medina to take in the streets, shop for local handicrafts and goods in the souk, and stop at a nearby cafe to people watch. Continue to feel the pulse of the town in its main square Plaza Uta el-Hamman and fill your belly with a visit to one of its many restaurants. Need a break and want to be pampered? Then a visit to a hammam (steam house) to unwind. To get your heart pumping there are some beautiful hikes and the landscape looks amazing. Rif Mountain hiking trails that are both beginner and advanced are available. Make sure you are properly prepared.  It looks like a charming town and I can’t wait until I wander there!

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A street in Chefchaouen – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned By Yaleyla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Shops in Chefchaouen, Morocco – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By YoTuT from United States (Chefchaouen, Morocco) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

My Top 5 Man-Made Sights


Last month I posted about My Top 5 Cities to Wander. This month my Top 5 is about man-made places or things. These places or works of art hold a special place in my memories, my heart, and bring a smile to my lips.

  1. Michelangelo’s Slave and Bound Slave, Louvre Museum (Paris) – I have never been more captivated by art than these two unfinished statues. They are complete by being incomplete. I do not know how Michelangelo did it but there is feeling, emotion in those statues. I have seen them three times and still my heart stops each time. 
  2. Eiffel Tower, Paris – Anyone who knows me, knows I love this building. It was among the first iconic buildings I had seen when I first visited Europe and has been imprinted on my heart ever since.  I have been to the top twice, once on my birthday where I drank sweet sweet champagne with my sister and friends.  If I had never seen Michelangelo’s Slaves this building would be number one.
  3. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur – The circular and geometric designs of its spires and the walkway them give them a unique look.  I learned of them shortly after they were built I had wanted to view them for myself ever since.  They did not disappoint. I think they are most beautiful lit up at night against the backdrop of the dark sky and city lights
  4. Taj Mahal, India – I had wanted to see the Taj Mahal since I was a child. For a short span of years I thought I may never see and tried to downplay its importance, that it could not be that spectacular.  Silliness really. Yet I did make it to Agra. A hot, humid and crowded experience that was all shed to the side when I finally saw the splendour of this magnificent building. It stands majestically and rightly so.
  5. Pagodas of Bagan, Myanmar – There are so many things I could put for number five. Yet the pagodas throughout Bagan are the first I think of. The entire area astounds me with the sheer amount of pagodas to be found. I loved wandering through the back roads on my scooter and viewing the beauty and importance of these buildings  to the people. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

 

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Michelangelo’s talent is breathtaking

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Gustave Eiffel’s treasure to Paris.

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Those brightly shining Petronas Twin Towers.

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The Taj Mahal, a labour of love.

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One of the numerous pagodas in Bagan

Monday Sessions – The Garden Route, South Africa


Hello! Today is the final Monday Session. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the adventures that my friends have had around the globe. I hope they have inspired you to perhaps consider some of the destinations and to have learned a bit more about various aspects of travel. The final session is with my long time friend and sometime travel partner Cat (yes even a solo traveller will partner up for fun adventures). Cat spent much of her youth in Cape Town, South Africa. In April 2016 Cat returned for a class reunion and to spend time with good friends.


SA - De Grendel Winery

View of Table Mountain from De Grendel Winery

WTW:  You spent much of your youth in South Africa and returned for a class reunion. How long had it been since you were there?
Cat:  30 years!!

WTW:  That is a long time. It’s wonderful that you were able to get back there. What had changed? 
Cat:  It had developed a fair bit, especially the downtown Waterfront area.  I didn’t see much else in Cape Town as I was outside Cape Town for most of my time.

WTW:  What feeling did you have when you returned?  
Cat:  I  felt like I was home again.  I got to see places that I’ve never seen before when I lived there previously.  I was enjoying the culture, the people, and the scenery. It felt like being home and it felt comfortable.

WTW:   It’s your happy place. Which areas Did you visit on this trip?
Cat:  Predominantly Hermanus which is a beach community 3 hours outside of Cape Town.  Then from Hermanus we did the Garden Route which goes up the east coast through Plattenberg Bay, Knysna, and onto Stormsriver where we ended.

WTW:  How did you get around? What type of accommodations did you stay in?
Cat:  My friend’s husband drove us so we did a road trip. We stayed at a golf resort for one of the nights, my friend has a timeshare in the golf resort.  Then for the other two nights we stayed at my friend’s brother-in-law’s vacation home right on the beach.

WTW:  You covered plenty of ground.  Which places did you see or visit that really stood out for you?
Cat:  I went ziplining in Tsitsikamma Park and to Cango Wildlife Park & Conservation Centre where I got to pet a baby cheetah. We did the Cango Caves and saw Knysna Heads which has some beautiful scenery along its the coast.

WTW:  What was your favourite part or favourite memory?
Cat:  Spending time with my best friend of 30 some years.

WTW:  Friends are always the best part.  South Africa has a very large wine industry. Did you take part in any wine tasting and if so can you tell me a bit about your favourites? 
Cat:  We did a couple of wine tours. My favorite was Creation Wines. We did a wine tasting lunch there in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, which is just near Hermanus. That was probably one of my favourites. And also a Graham Beck bubbly which we had sitting on the veranda watching the sunset with the beach and the waves crashing in front of us.

WTW:  Wine is yummy. Your 30-year class reunion was held at a winery. Which one was it & how was it?
Cat: It was as the De Grendel Wine Farm. It was beautiful. Gorgeous views of Table Mountain and from the area called Panorama.

WTW:  Any tips, recommendations for suggestions for anyone wanting to go to Cape Town and area?
Cat: Definitely to get out of Cape Town. Cape Town is beautiful but you also need to see the rest of South Africa. The scenery up both the west coast and the east coast of the Cape is absolutely amazing. You can go from beach to desert within the matter of an hour and it’s absolutely beautiful.

WTW:  Thank you so much Cat. It does sound like a stunning place and I can’t wait to see it – we need to plan a trip soon.  All photos owned & taken by Cat and used with permission.

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Victoria & Albert Waterfront, Cape Town

SA - Cango Wildlife Ranch

Cango Wildlife Ranch & Conservation Centre

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Graham Beck bubbly with the South African sunset

Sunday Special – Brisbane, Australia


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Brisbane at night – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned  By wirepic (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Brisbane is the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland and the third largest city by population in the country. A contemporary city that lies along the Brisbane River in southeast Queensland, it is a vibrant urban locale with plenty of activities to take part in. What can you expect in this sunny urban destination? It appears to me that there is so much to partake in that you’d have to schedule a rest day! 

Fancy a climb? How about heading up Story Bridge? Take a 2-hour climb to the top of this landmark bridge to take in amazing views of the city. After climbing and seeing the river you can go and play on it. Activities such as kayaking or standup paddle boarding are popular. You can also cross the river in a City Cat Ferry.  Should you need a break from the hot sun then head to one of the numerous museums found around town. Notable ones include Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) which happen to be located beside each other.  Another option is the Museum of Brisbane that showcases the history of Brisbane and a variety of exhibits. Meandering through South Bank will show you parks, restaurants, cafes, beaches, the Wheel of Brisbane, family-oriented fun, and cultural sights.  A day away from the city can be accomplished with a visit to Moreton Island, a large sand island that is accessible via ferry.  Rent a 4WD vehicle to traverse the sands across the island or sand toboggan down some dunes. You can take a dip in the Champagne Pools’ crystal clear waters or snorkel with marine life and see shipwrecks. Explore and see aboriginal cultural sites and World War I and II relics. Hiking, surfing,  beaches, and flora and fauna are part of the experience as well. 

I don’t doubt that Brisbane is a fun city with much to see and do. The above is only a short list of what I have found. I imagine that Brisbane is a great place to visit.

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South Bank and Brisbane Wheel – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Brisbane City Council (28 – South Bank Parklands) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Story Bridge Panorama

Story Bridge, Brisbane – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Cyron Ray Macey from Brisbane (-27.470963,153.026505), Australia (Story Bridge Panorama) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons