jueves, 11 de enero de 2024

Leiden 2023: the Oldest University City in Holland

Picture from Sunday: The Saturday was grey

Hello, today I continue with this blog to tell you about our two-day trip to Leiden, Holland to visit our university daughter and her boyfriend, at the beginning of December, the 9th to be exact.

Molen Museum De ValkOK, a raining day
but the temperature was mild. About 10 degrees!

We traveled on Saturday morning from Hamburg, before noon. We landed in Amsterdam and continued the journey to Leiden by the interregional train called Sprinter. The journey takes half an hour.

Leiden is the oldest university city in the Netherlands. With approximately 121,000 inhabitants. Our daughter and her boyfriend live 20 minutes from the train station. We walked first with our small suitcase to our Hotel Breathe, located in front of a canal, the Herengracht, before visiting the young people. The December weather was not typical winter, but the rain reminded us of November. It was almost 10 degrees and we hardly saw anyone using umbrellas, since it would be of no use because it was windy.

Raining Saturday

An apartment in front of a canal, like the typical photos of Holland

We already knew Leiden, because in July we rented a house in Zoetermeer, not to far away, to help our daughter and her boyfriend find an apartment. Zoetermeer is 20 minutes from Leiden. We were all there to look for an apartment, since our daughter was about to start university in October.

It is not easy as students to find housing. It is a little easier to get shared university accommodation, in the university residences. But they wanted their separate space.

The search began in Hamburg, Germany by writing emails to request a visit to the apartments. No one answered. That's why my husband contacted a real estate agent in Leiden directly and luckily he was the first to see an apartment that was not yet advertised on the market. We were lucky because the contract was signed during that week in July. Our daughter and her boyfriend were very lucky.

We ate this delicious bake potato dish with
spinach and eggs

My husband had accompanied them to see the apartment. He had also helped them with the move in September 2023. He brought them some things from Germany and also took them to Ikea to buy some furniture.

This visit in December would be the first for me to see the famous department, since I had only seen it in photographs.

We arrive at the building. They live right in front of a canal. To make the experience complete, we all went to a supermarket, Dirk, a 5-minute walk from his house, because the young people would make us dinner. This is how we spent Saturday night. Talking about the city and learning about their experiences in Leiden. In this cozy apartment.

Goodbye Curtains!

On the way back we walked again. It is possible to take a taxi or a bus, but the easiest way is to walk. Or like everyone does, riding a bicycle. Our daughter and her boyfriend do it that way. So rain or no rain, we decided we would walk. This is how we had another opportunity to admire the canals and bridges, two aspects that have made Holland famous.

My beautiful view from the hotel window. 
The people at the
reception said we should pay extra! 

And since we had a break in the rain, we walked slowly. Which allowed us to verify that just like in Amsterdam, in Leiden there are plenty of houses without curtains. That's how it is! Almost 100 percent of the houses or apartments did not use them. So if we turned around quickly, we could see how its inhabitants were spending their Saturday nights.

And we arrived at the hotel. We had a wonderful view from our room: the Christmas tree in the hotel courtyard. Before going to sleep, we close the curtains. I was very happy that our room did have them.

View from the Breathe Hotel. Amazing!

How do the Dutch in Leiden spend their Sunday morning?

In the morning we woke up to the visit of a hotel employee who brought us our breakfast to our room. We had some specialties for breakfast such as the Dutch bread basket and chocolate chips called Hagelslag. This is eaten on a slice of bread. This delicacy is never missing from the Dutch breakfast. And of course, we also tasted other delicacies.

The city was slowly waking up. With almost no tourists, the inhabitants of Leiden slowly settled into the chairs of the cafes along the banks of the Oude Rijn River, or entertained themselves in shops such as boutiques or any other business. But yes, unlike Germany or other countries in Europe, the stores are open on Sundays. Wonderful! Our university couple really enjoys this option.

Sunday Morning: Leiden was getting ready 
for the breakfast and the time around the shops

Our daughter and her boyfriend arrived by bicycle to the Waax restaurant. There we all enjoyed Leiden-style burgers. I was almost on the verge of ordering the Nachos with cheese, but I didn't and I didn't regret it, because then some diner near our table ordered them and no, I didn't crave them.

Unfortunately we were running out of time in Leiden. The 4 of us went to the airport, as our daughter would say see you soon to the two of us and her boyfriend. He would leave to visit his family in South Africa. Our daughter would come to visit us to spend Christmas with us in Hamburg. But for now she would stay in Leiden to finish her studies before the Christmas holidays.

Holland is not just canals, but
lots of bridges, of course!

Amsterdam's Christmas gift for these travel to us, were Christmas carols performed by a Band. I loved the musicians' costumes. A Christmas combination but in Dutch Blue and white.

Bye, bye Amsterdam. We will back soon!

The return flight with KLM to Hamburg was perfect. We really enjoyed the company of our young family and having enjoyed two relaxing days in Leiden. Holland is definitely a wise decision to spend more time in its attractive cities. I'll tell you about our next visits.

Thanks for reading and happy 2024!

martes, 31 de octubre de 2023

In Ibiza, the Island of the Eco Tourism and Design

Hello, back to this blog to tell you about our adventure in Ibiza, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean, famous for having 24 hour disco parties.

But Ibiza is more than that. We have discovered that it is heading towards Eco tourism and design. Without forgetting its unbeatable cuisine and the incredible relaxing way of life. No hurries at all! If you are there you need to enjoy and forget all the stress!

My husband and I traveled from Hamburg. Our flight would leave at 7 in the morning. Awkwardly we arrived at an airport without crowds, as it was the second week of autumn vacation. Before taking off, we had coffee and croissants from Moevenpick for breakfast.

Sluiz, the IKEA of Ibiza?

We landed at 10 in the morning in Eivissa, its capital. After collecting our suitcases, we went to look for our rental car. Since it was too early to check into our room at the Six Senses Hotel, we decided to take a tour of the island. My husband found a super tip, the Sluiz store.

We arrived with the idea of ​​finding an IKEA, or at least that's how it was described in the tourist book we bought about the island.

To begin with, we missed the entry. I was directing my husband while he drove and I didn't pay attention to the Navi. But the entrance looked like a mechanic's workshop. Well, once the bad impression of the entrance had been resolved, we parked and a group of Giant Dwarves (the kind used to decorate the garden) welcomed us with an obscene gesture.

We saw very creative and rebellious pieces. Like a green Venus, surrounded by green dolls all over her body. But outside of these sculptures, we find the true feeling of Ibiza. There you can find everything from a spoon to all the furniture for your garden. Even women's and men's fashion. The typical one from Ibiza that many would consider Hippie.

I was in my element. I wanted to buy everything and take it with me back to Hamburg. But we did take a ceramic piece in the shape of an avocado to serve the guacamole and a centerpiece that we liked as a wall decoration. When we paid I told the saleswoman that just because of that store I could stay and live in Ibiza!

Es Pins, a restaurant with the local spark

After the Sluiz experience, we continued driving towards the hotel, but first we stopped at a restaurant for locals, Es Pins.

In Ibiza Catalan is an official language and the meaning of the restaurant's name is Los pinos.

We arrived just before one in the afternoon, just to be able to order the midday menu. The waiter greeted us with a plate of bread and of course a portion of their famous aioli. Delicious.

We ordered a paella with everything. Meanwhile the restaurant was filled with local consumers. We were possibly one of two tables with tourists. The rest, Spaniards who had their Sunday walk at their favorite restaurant.

It was impossible for me to leave Es Pins without trying their pine nut flan. It was divine. The traditional egg flan, with a secret ingredient. The pine nuts. Delicious. Be sure to go to Es Pins if you come around Ibiza.

We continued driving through Saint Joan de Labritja and arrived at the Six Senses Hotel.

Six Senses: the Ocean welcomed us with open arms

Upon arriving at the reception, the first thing that impressed us was its Olive Tree in the center of it. Next to it, we saw a red tractor. This hotel has the premise of Eco tourism. For example, they have a garden that they use for their restaurant dishes. And the water they use is recycled from the sea. Desalinated. This I need to say was a bit difficult for me, as I found it very salty. But definitely very sustainable for the environment. Next to the airport we saw a desalination plant. Ibiza is creating a good path for tourism.

Most of the hotel guests were English. Some Germans or Swiss and few Latin Americans. The hotel faces the sea and its infinity pool invites you to take a dip. But we preferred to rest and watch the sea from the terrace, since the water no longer had that summer temperature.

Having lived in Camps Bay, Cape Town, it was a blessing to return to a sea view. Listening to the sound of the sea and feeling the clean breeze under a blue sky were the elements that we were missing. Although during our first day the afternoon was rather cloudy, we were able to enjoy the sun.

The day ended with a toast with Cava on the terrace and dinner at their exotic Beach Caves restaurant, famous for influencers who always take pictures of themselves on its lively wall.

And the night ended. The next morning awaited us to continue enjoying Ibiza. I'll tell you that in the next entry. Thanks for reading me!

sábado, 22 de julio de 2023

In Giza, Cairo


Hello, back in this blog with the continuation of our trip to Cairo in June 2023.

View from my hotel window

On June 11, we left the Sofitel El Gezirah Hotel to move closer to the pyramids in Giza. We arrive at the Mena House Marriott Hotel, a building that has experienced part of the history of Modern Egypt.

This hotel was built by the English and has seen how Egypt regained its territories at the hands of Israel. It has had world leaders since World War I. International singers and artists have stayed and enjoyed the fascinating view of the Pyramids as they are not so far away. Only 10 minutes walking, approximately.

Amazing sculpture at the mall

It was Sunday and that day we decided to spend it visiting a shopping center and not in the pyramids. On Monday we would go early because on a Sunday the pyramids would be completely full of locals and visitors.

Marriott Mena House

Chased by a security guard at the Mall of Egypt

Here we go!

We took an Uber from the hotel to get to the Mall of Egypt. We did not plan to buy souvenirs, as we had already done so at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but maybe something for our daughters.


Exactly as I imagined!

We always like to visit shopping centers to be closer to the inhabitants of the city. And yes, we saw few tourists since this center is approximately half an hour from the Marriott Hotel.


We immediately noticed that a security guard was behind us. Oh no, I thought, what did we do wrong? But no, not at all that he was looking for us for some crime, not the contrary, he asked us how he could help us. We told him that we were looking for all-Egyptian shops. At his recommendation, I start our tour of this very western mall.

So western that we ended up having dinner at Chilli's restaurant. Burgers, of course.

We had the restaurant just for us!

This center is a jewel because the locals take shelter from the heat. I loved a statue of a woman at the entrance to it.

The Pyramids: A Mirage?

After the tourist break, the tour to the pyramids began just before 8 in the morning. We had an early breakfast and at 7:40 in the morning our journey through the streets towards Giza began.

Original egypt breakfast at Khufu´s

We got there before most of the tour buses, the camels, horse carts and all the vendors. And believe me, this was a treat. We had the pyramids almost to ourselves. Although the guards on every corner of Giza, were talking to us to sell their photographic help.

I cannot describe the feeling of having visited the Egyptian Pyramids. It was a dream come true. The sun made them appear like a mirage. I could not believe it. There they were, showing the improbability of their dimension. How could they have been created? Who built them? How many secrets do they harbour? What discoveries will continue to be made? In short, I dedicated myself only to observe and admire them.

A great path to visit the restaurant, but to many cars

A recommendation to any visitor. Please print your map of Giza before you come to them. At the ticket office we did not have any map nor could we locate any during our tour. My husband took a photo on the Internet to be able to locate us and get to the viewpoint where you can see the three. Khufu, Kafre and Menkaure.

It was a delight to walk through Giza. Admire the Sphinx, the temples in the middle of the desert. An hour later, Giza was filled with tourists brought in on camels and horse-drawn carts. The drivers didn't really understand that we wanted to walk in the sun, but we did. We thoroughly enjoyed this experience.

A secret tunel

A restaurant just for us. Very romantic

Let´s go to the swimming pool!

The tour was about to end, but not before going to appreciate this marvel from the viewpoint of the Khufu restaurant. We weren't sure it was open but we still decided to go in and ask. And yes, we could have breakfast there. On the terrace with a view of the pyramids. I really didn't have much of an appetite, but the waiter recommended that we have breakfast with all the Egyptian specialties. And we did. It was wonderful because it was as if we had reserved the terrace for just the two of us. Very romantic.

The dream to know the pyramids continued to enjoy the afternoon in the pool of Casa Mena. Under the shadow of the Egyptian sun. The day ended with dinner at the hotel.

Mena House by night

The next day we would wake up to the news that our princess Puddle Lola had died. Our daughters had taken her to the doctor for vomiting on the Friday when the trip began. On Saturday she improved remarkably. On Sunday it got worse again and on Monday she was hospitalized. When we arrived in Hamburg, the vet showed us the X rays. The stomach, the organ, not her tummy was very large. Apparently a tumor. Lola passed away half an hour before her scheduled operation. Life was good to her because it spared her this surgery which she would not have survived.

Good bye Cairo!

You can imagine how we feel. We left her well and came back and we couldn't hold her in our arms anymore. I said goodbye to her and loaded her before traveling to the airport. She gave me a deep sigh because she was asleep. But we thank life for having put her in our path and we thank God that this tumor did not make her suffer too much. She accompanies us with her spirit. Our angel Lola.

Well, that's life. For our family, this sad event made us reassess the privilege of being together and not stop telling each other and showing each other how we love each other. How we did with our Lola from the first moment she came into our lives in Cape Town. Thanks for reading and until the next Aterrizando.