Blog Image

Vagablond

About the blog

On the way - through life and around the world - this blog consists of Vagablonds stories, thoughts and ideas.
The blog is divided into categories: 365 consist of everyday stories, updates, current travel experiences and the like. OUT & ABOUT gives you a glimpse of Vagablonds mind. VOYAGER involves anything travel-related; memoirs, advice, impressions.. The supersmart BLOND informs and the love for food category EAT explains itself.. QUOTES - a collection of Vagablonds faves.

Feel free to click around, read, make comments or give feedback. Enjoy travelling - enjoy life!

TRAVEL ADAPTER & OTHER SOLUTIONS

VOYAGER Posted on 2012-01-22 12:29:36

There are many things one can forget when travelling.
Passport, credit cards, house keys (when travelling to 2nd homes) etc. And solutions are in those cases not always possible to come up with in short time.

A friend of mine just posted this picture on facebook (below) – and that made me think of all the strange episodes I have had, trying to fix something on the way (duck taping shoes, cutting chewing gum out of my hair as I had no opportunity to shower for days, supergluing my snowboardbindings, forcing my European hairdryer to fit the electrical outlet in South America, every day for 3 months!.. and the stories are many)

But nevertheless, the best episode was in Nepal, when I had worn my clothes for more than 2 weeks and my sherpa took my clothes to the laundry shop. (aka the icey river behind the rocky hut)
I was happy to have my clothes cleaned and went into the living of the sherpa house where we stayed that night.
Outdoors the temperature was well below 0 and indoors the oven in the middle of the room filled with dried yak shit made the family gather around. (The families actually sleep on benches in the room where they have the oven. A house usually has 2 rooms; a kitchen and a living/sleeping room. (it would be wrong to name it a bed room, as they have no beds..) The kitchen has an open fire and the living has an oven.

I sat down to have dinner and not long after I had ordered my noodle soup, I noticed it dripped on my head from above. As the construction quality was poor I thought I’d ignore the leak and didn’t bother to say anything.

I was served my soup from the sherpa grandmother, she was doing the kitchen service that evening.. A minute later the sherpa housewife on the opposite side of the oven was bothered by the leak too. She touched her head, put on a grumpy face and stood up. She said something to me in Nepali and left the room.
All the men were giggling; grandpa sherpa, uncle sherpa, cousin sherpa, brother sherpa, sherpa baby and some of the neighbouring sherpas. They laughed and blushed and looked at me..

I then looked up, and to my surprise all my clothing was placed on beams and on a temporarily constructed drying rack above our heads.. My socks, my bra, my panties, my tights, my everything.. to the amusement of all the male sherpas.

I was so embarrased when I realised the sherpa housewife was not pleased by having this European girl there, who showed off all her underwear!

To my excuse; little did I know that my sherpa had also taken my “hidden” laundry bag as he went to the “laundry shop” earlier that day. I would obviously never had wanted him to clean my underwear!
Anyways, lesson learned; my clothes smelled like burned yak shit for the rest of my stay and I did not bother to wash it at all – as I now knew that Sherpa people only do laundry when the weather allows you to dry it outdoors. Indoor? tabu.

Creative travel adapter


Vagablond – out&about



THE JOURNEY BACK

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-10-09 11:12:31

The journey back (REISEN TILBAKE)

This fall, three Norwegian aid veterans are returning to countries they used
to work in. However, they do not intend to travel alone. The aid workers will
be accompanied by nine common Norwegians who will report on the effects of
Norwegian aid.

Norway has been involved in public development aid since 1952. The goal has always
been to fight poverty – with different means. Many projects over the years have
given people a new existence, dignity and faith in the future. But there are also
projects where patience is tested.

Three former aid workers will be making a trip back to where they worked,
meeting people they worked with at the time, and look at what has happened to
the communities and the people.

Nine ordinary Norwegians will travel with the veterans. These will give you a glimpse
of Norwegian assistance. They should convey what they experience and share with
you their reflections on what they see. The travelers will also meet people and
hear their stories, both people who have worked with the assistance and people who
have benefited from assistance. Everyone has a story.

The journey back is Norad’s information campaign to disseminate the results of Norwegian
assistance.

(Article translated from www.reisentilbake.no)

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is
a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

This year Norad arranges the “journey back” to Zambia, Nepal
and South-Africa.

I am a contestant and in the run for participating on the journey
to Zambia.

Give me your vote and I will do my best to communicate my
experiences and share it with you.

Let me give something back – by being part on the Journey
back.

To vote, please follow the link: (select Nicole Jacqueline
Schmitz and press the “FERDIG” button. You can vote 1 time per device, so
please vote from your iPhones and iPads in addition to your Macs and PCs!)

http://www.easyresearch.se/s.asp?WID=827109&Pwd=34848246&key=62254,97

Thanks in advance! Voting ends Monday October 10 at 14:00
(Norway time)

Vagablond – out&about




Airports

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-10-02 12:01:15

How strange it may sound, I am inspired by airports. When at
airports I am inspires to think big thoughts and write. Is it because of what I
see? What I hear?

“Last call for passengers Nielsen and Yoon-Lee, the gate is closing.”

Airports are noisy. Yes. To me – a constant buzzing sound,
comfortable. And I know I will not be disturbed, although it is noisy. A noisy
environment where you´re disturbed every 5 minutes, would annoy me. Airports?
Perfect.

Being on the way, for business or pleasure, or maybe just
travelling home; people at airports are filled with expectations. The movement
is constant. People, luggage, airplanes, sound, information. A constant, never
still.

Airports have good light – gigantic windows. If I ever have
a house, I will have large windows. Lots of light and a lot of view.

“Good afternoon. Flight SK1638 to Copenhagen is now ready for boarding at gate B24. Passengers seated from row 15 to 30 are kindly asked to board the plane at the back entrance.”

Airports never sleep. They are vivid. It´s an international place,
we are on international ground. We share the facilities, we function together
in order to progress the movement. A mini
version of the whole world (the peaceful version…) People… Arab, European, American,
Asian, Russian, young, old, religious, dressed for business or wearing leather
pants and piercings, burkas, different languages, different preferences. It all meets at airports. And it works.
Forward. Manpower goes hand in hand with modern technology. We respect waiting
lines. We respect each other. Why don´t we do that elsewhere?

Airports give the basis for a
functional environment. The movement is constant.

“Flight LH1448 to Moscow-Domodedovo wih departure time 13:25 has been delayed. Please contact your airline for further information”

Despite the hassle that
accompanies modern travel (online check-ins, bag drop off queues, liquid
limitations, and although you wear no
metals, it beeps when passing the security check; having to take off the belt and
the watch and the bracelet and the shoes.. still beeping… Then putting it
all back on…) Additionally I have to mention that I was never stuck at an
airport due to bomb threats, volcanic ash or storms. I appologize my enthusiasm
to those who have. However, I have had my experiences with regards to delays,
overbookings, technical problems…

Overbooked in Havana, Cuba; 14
hours waiting for the next plane uncertain if there´s a seat available… Airport
shuttle bus breakdown on the freeway, 5 km away from Incheon airport, Seoul,
South-Korea – resulted in a night on an airport bench and the cost of a new
ticket with another airline. Missing connecting flights (too many to bother
mention any). Waiting for plane parts flying in from other countries, for 10
hours or so, due to technical problems discovered after boarding. And then, not
seldom, the magical word DELAYED has resulted in a measureable effect in terms
of increased travel expenditure (Fashion shop Celine, terminal 2E; Charles de
Gaulle, Paris) and a decrease in level of patience.

Goethe said “Do not travel to
reach a destination, but to travel”. And I agree; travel for the sake of
travelling. When planes are delayed or have technical problems; something is
wrong and I am happy to wait till it’s fixed. Furthermore, it is not under my
control or influence, and not under the control of the (poor) crew working at
the gates (whom always receive reprisals from angry passengers).

“We wish you a pleasant flight. Thank you for flying with Norwegian”

At airports, I most often find
myself at a table. With my laptop or pen and paper, a book, a coffee, the newspapers
of the day, the boarding pass and a clear mind. I am on my way to somewhere. I
am focused and exist in the moment, in the middle of surroundings in constant movement.
The mind, the thoughts and the idea factory runs smoothly
forwards, just like everything else around. On the way to somewhere; one step
at a time.

Safe travels everyone!

Vagablond – out&about



Beirut Dutch Guy working in Cairo

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-08-31 12:55:41

I was in Amsterdam this rainful weekend and on my way there I contacted a guy I met in Beirut in June. We were at the same bar, apparantly the only Western Europeans around, and he came up to me with a cold drink in his hand and said:
“Hi, can I talk to you? I am all by myself.”

A somewhat weird approach I remember thinking, but hey, original at least.

We spoke and exchanged numbers before I left – which I was happy to have done as I on my way to the capital of Heineken was lucky to receive a dozen insider tips that made my Amsterdam-weekend great!

However, two days was far from sufficient to discover all the hot spots recommended, so I guess another visit should be planned.

I am sharing some of the insiders with you and would like to say thanks or dankjewel –
Unfortunately I don´t know your name, on my iPhone you are saved as Beirut Dutch Guy working in Cairo


EAT @

– Restaurant Envy on Prinsengracht – 6 course surprise dinner
– Pasta e Basta on Nieuwe Spiegeldwarsstraat – singing dinner
– Sama Sebo or Blue Pepper or Tempo Doeloe – Indonesian cuisine (book tables in advance!)
– MOMOs – stylish place loaded with design, where far east meets west
– Lion Noir on Reguliersdwarsstraat – fancy schmansy
– Burgermeester – high quality burgers

ENJOY NIGHTLIFE @

– AIR – clubbing on Amstelstraat – went there and went mad! The entrance gives you an immediate feeling as if your part of the Matrix (falling numbers) Expensive though..
– Odeon club
– Paradiso – old church converted into concert hall/club/bar – best spot in whole of Amsterdam
– Escape – club on Rembrandtplein – went there, had a Sambucca or two, live DJs and a cool location
– Panama – gigantic club near the central station
– Melkweg – club/concert hall housed in a former diary, hence the name. Variety of line ups and concerts – recommendable!
– Sugar Factory – opposite of Melkweg – not the best spot in town, maybe better with a different line-up than the bozza-jazza-soul-nova-ish thing we had..
– Bastille XL or Players for the afterparty

After the afterparty you can get a bike taxi home or a regular taxi.
Two experiences:

1. Getting the bike taxi (rickshaw) home
If you do not know the way home, you might be taken on a ride just anywhere but to the hotel when jumping in the back of this 3-wheeled human powered transportation mean. My advice: discuss the route and price in advance – one guy demanded €10 for a 400 meter long ride. We gave him 5 and both parties perceived a so-called lose-lose situation.

2. I followed my own advice: Getting a bike taxi home and agreeing on the route and price in advance: The biker wanted € 7 per person. Not acceptable and we found that way too expensive (although we had no clue where we were, but always pretend like you know..) We jumped into a regular taxi and told him to take us to the hotel..whereupon he immediately stopped the car and turned around with a look on his face that clearly, without words, expressed: Are you f*ckin kidding me?

He suggested we got out of the car and walked just around the building to find our hotel..

A 150 metres walk (at no cost) – shame shame on you Mr taxi biker!

SLEEP @

– Hotel V – cool design hotel
– Hotel Piet Hein
– Hotel Roemer
– Hotel de Filosoof
– Art Gallery Hotel
– Hotel
Vondel
– Boutique Hotel Patou
– or the new Notting Hill Hotel


Vagablond – out&about



Dam – di – dam

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-08-29 10:06:03

And here we go again..

du dung – du dung

This time the train I am on is rolling out of the Køln Hauptbahnhof (Cologne Central Station). Destination: Amsterdam

I decided to spend some time in Amsterdam this weekend – one of craziest cities I know.. in terms of weird and great locations, lounges and clubs, in terms of the tallest and loudest people I know, the coolest bookshops, the amount of bikes, the vintage shops in “de Negen Straatjes”, the liberal spirit, the coffeshops, the red lights and of course; all the canals that somehow divide, somehow coher the city, crossed by narrow bridges and alongside streets with crooked houses.

The town makes me loose myself and the direction- over and over again.
Completely lost, but who would mind? I am then even more amazed as every corner of Amsterdam is worth discovering.

Vagablond – out&about

Rainy day on Staalstraat, downtown Amsterdam



RE:DISCOVER

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-08-14 19:41:54

Du dung – du dung – du dung

The train is leaving.. Slowly it departs Drammen
and soon I will see the city vanish as trees and hills fill my view from seat
100V.

I am about to cross Norway – from East to
West. A 7 hour train ride.

Du dung – du dung – du dung..

I was in Stavanger not too long ago, the Norwegian
oil capital. I was certainly not there for the oil, but for fun;) My
mission this summer and year, as the summer now is passing; is to discover
Norway. Pardon, REdiscover.

Bergen, Trondheim.. cities. Fjords, mountains..
People.

I am smiling as the train runs. Through deep
forests, passing through hundreds of tunnels or so, along a river, a lake..
Sunshine. I enjoy the ride.

After years abroad I am excited to explore this
marvellous country. The nature is nothing like elsewhere on the planet.

A little bit of the Alps, a little bit of the
Argentine Pampa and Andes, some of the lakes from Finland, rocky deserts as on
Iceland, winters as on the Northpole, sandy beaches as on the Maledives, surf
waves as those in Hawaii (only half the size and a third or maybe a fourth of
the temperature.. but waves we do have!), deep forests as in Poland,
silence…and a coast line as..

..as in Norway only.

It is beautiful, truly.

Du dung – du dung – du dung.

Re:discover Norway.

Yesterday I went up a mountain after riding an ATV
through the woods. Incredible views. The mountains in Rogaland, one of 19
Norwegian provinces, is nothing like I have ever seen before. They are round,
not edgy. Steep. And they dive deep into the fjords. Magnificent – it is so
beautiful it seems mountains are simply painted on the horizon. As if they´re
unreal. And I feel a desire to be there – in the middle of it. On top of it.
All of them; all the peaks, the hills, the rocks.

I am planning to summit Galdhøgpiggen later this
year, the highest peak in Norway (2469 m.a.s) But first, I have some unfinished
business with the mountains of Rogaland, the ones of Eastern Norway and some
re:discovering to do on Norwegian waters.

Nature & myself or in good company, just as I
like it.

And this in Norway. How lucky I am.

Vagablond –
out&about



Blond Terrorist WANTED

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-06-09 17:16:06

From time to time Oslo airport arranges passport control just ouside the airplane before entering the terminal – it creates a long waiting line and I usually find it nothing but waist of time.

However, yesterday I was the wanted one!

Everybody presented their passports and passed. Easy.
The police woman asked me in English whether I came to Norway for tourism or business. I responded “none of the two”, in Norwegian, “I live here”.
She looked at me (red. notice its a she – yes? she official meeting she traveller is always a bitch), raised her eyebrow and commented;
“Well, looking at your passport doesn´t indicate anything about Norway.” She still talked to me in English as if she had just confronted a potential terrorist and her voice was l.o.u.d. People behind me in line started paying attention to the scene that she (official) had created – and as I loudly responded, to make the scene complete, “I SPEAK NORWEGIAN!” we had all the attention. Even people that had passed the control stopped and looked back. They put down their hand luggage just to stand and observe what would happen next.

She held my passport and the questioning began.

“What is your purpose in Norway?

“Get home”

“Where have you been?”

“I just arrived from Riga”

“Ok. Have you been anywhere else?”

“Yes. I´ve been to Lebanon and Jordan”

(You could now hear a sound go through the audience – as if she just had successfully stopped a potential criminal. Tension increased)

“Why?”

“Holidays”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes”

(She passed through my passport searching the stamp. She was stressed – she couldn´t find it.)

“When are you born?” + “Where do you live?” + “What is your occupation?”

I was bombed with questions.

“What did you do in Lebanon?”

“Party, spent some days at the beach, sightseeing..”

“Are you travelling alone?”

“Yes”

“Well – that is strange. Will you please come with me?”

Audience was quiet. I smiled – they had just witnessed the police catch the most confident, sunburned, potential, blond terrorist one could ever spot.

I was questioned about my stay, whom I´d met and my everyday schedule. Luckily I had taken notes as I intend to do some writing about it. Then my hand luggage was checked..

Back at the terminal I noticed people talking – “look, she buys a bottle of wine!” I picked up my bag from the belt – which according to some peoples faces was a soon-to-explode bomb. Anyways – all PR is good PR and I this just added some spice to the travel.

Vagablond – out&about



Breakfast in Riga

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-06-08 23:42:23

I arrived Riga 06:00 this morning after a long nights travel (from Beirut via Amman) and after immigration I went straight to the check-in counter to get my onwards boarding pass – just to be sure I would relax and enjoy the next 5 hours in Riga.

I took bus 22 to town, super easy and quick. At 07:00 I found myself in the middle of Riga´s old town after crossing the Daugava River. I strolled through a park and crossed tram lines on cobblestoned streets.
Elegant as in Paris and medieval as Prague and I, I had it all to my self.
Well, almost, I did see a cat and a couple of street cleaners – brushing yesterday away and making the streets ready and walkable for the hundreds of people that soon would walk and bike to and from offices, appointments and meetings. A few would have a day or a half off and enjoy an ice cream; it was a hot and sunny day.

Some places Soviet leftover bleak was visible, but colourful and well decorated house walls makes it vivid and I expect rumors to be true; it´s a cultural place. A lot of history just within few quarters.

I enjoyed the silence – which is unlikely to experience in any city. Riga however was calm – even though streets were filled at some point, people were calm.

The morning demand for coffee came with the heat of the sun and I went
to withdraw some cash – for a coffee, for breakfast, maybe later on a new
book… For the first time in my life I had no idea about the currency and I withdrew 100. A round sum.

I observed from a sidewalk café; No rush. Women here all wore dresses or skirts. Beautiful. Red lipstick, on a Wednesday. High heals. And my guess is that red hair is in.

Coffee costed 0.90. Breakfast 4.10.

Later I passed a fashionable street with lots of local design – and more well known brands. You will find mainstream in Riga- just as in all the nordic countries. And you´ll find Jil Sander. Lanvin. And a multibrand shop Kabuki. +++ I spotted this handbag from Guess. And it was sooooo cute, fitted perefct in it the size of my hand and it was soooooo affordable! It only costed 85!

Clueless and happy I arrived the airport to continue my trip to Norway, a two hour propeller flight away from Riga. I was the only one who had a two seat for myself (I had checked in at the business class counter, and had charms luck as usual 🙂 )

Checking the flight menu made me realize something about the Latvian currency and my hand bags value… But soon we were up in the clouds and my always returning question occupied my thoughts;
What are clouds? How is the air structure inside a cloud compared to just air? Why is it more turbulent inside a cloud? Ever wondered what they taste, feel or smell like?

It was a lovely low-altitude flight in the sunshine. Smooth clouds dreams mixed with a lot of sweet memories of a fantastic week. More stories to come…

Vagablond – out&about

and to be seen with this bag the next week(s):



BEIRUT

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-06-06 11:01:47

Currently in Beirut and enjoying it to the fullest. The diversity of this city – no, pardon this country (!) is amazing. You find churches and mosques next to each other, cross-religion and cross-culture walk hand-in-hand, beach and mountains, green and desert, noise and peace.

It is difficult to select words to describe Beirut – in my book I have written down approx 80 adjectives I wanted to add in a blog post. I guess there are two however, that describe them all: DIVERSE and VIBRANT.

Daytime I spent at beaches and in cities of old times, at wineyards and castles, in the hectic downtown and walking through the souks of Beirut and along fashionable streets, having a coffe, having a tea, the most delicious food, a yoga class or just strolling for the sake of strolling. At night the city transforms into another scenery and all the diversity and vibrance you experience during the day accumulates and becomes more visible. It simply gets harder, better, faster, stronger…

I recommend the world to experience Beiruts night scene! A blend of crazyness, fun, love, culture, addiction and pleasure. You simply cant help it: you will to take off!

I was welcomed as a family member when I arrived, and as a friend among friends. I will be sad when I leave, but I am leaving with great memories. I have won a sister and new friends and I look forward to the moment in future when we meet again.

Vagablond – out&about



MENDOZA & MAIPU

VOYAGER Posted on 2011-04-18 15:34:06

Yesterday we visited a family run bodega in Maipu where they had just finished this years harvest of wine grapes. Mainly Malbec, but others as well. All organic farming..

I was rude enough to ask if they would take us around the facilities – and the lady was so nice she followed us around and even explained us everything of he complex wine production process – from the harvest to the kind of glue they use for their bottles etiquettes (glued on manually btw..) – and we were invited to taste some of their wines before walking up and down the winefields, taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful view of green olive fields, autumn coloured wine plants and areas of deserts at the foot of snowcovered Andes mountains. We could even see the Tupungato volcano in the horizon as the sky was so clear! (6.550 metres)

As we ended up buying a couple of bottles we now have to buy a bag to be able to check in the luggage on tonights return flight to Buenos Aires. And – since we buy a bag we suddenly have so much luggage space it would be a shame not to go loco in all the mountain/sports gear shops around here.

Mendoza actually consists of these shops only and the people who are into trekking, climbing, skiing etc run tours and expeditions and you find just as many tour organizors as you find gear shops.. A rafting/trekking/wine tasting mekka:) So, no time to loose – off to do some shopPING!

Vagablond – out&about