In English please

Dear international readers,

on the following page you can find some of my postings in english.

<3 Anja


Safari Trip to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful and diverse safari and travel destinations in southern Africa. And also one of the last great person tips when it comes to safaris in Africa. The country is blessed with fertile soil, gorgeous landscapes and breathtaking faunal richness. Not for nothing is Zimbabwe considered one of the best safari destinations in the world. The Mana Pools (four vast pool in a national park, which are fed by the Zambezi River) or the Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe’s largest wildlife reserve located on the border with Botswana and the foothills of the Kalahari Desert) in the southwest of the country are an absolute person tip for safari connoisseurs and these are only visited by a slight number of tourists. Zimbabwe has with more than 65,000 elephants one of the largest elephant populations in the world. Zimbabwe became know due to its colonial past and the spectacular Victoria Falls. The general situation in Zimbabwe has eased significantly since the new coalition government and organizing self-drive tours are quite possible again, according to our estimation. However, it has to be mentioned that we were visiting only the southern part of the country, which represents the touristic center of Zimbabwe since time immemorial.

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THE ROAD TO ZIMBABWE

We flew with Condor from Frankfurt / Main Airport to Windhoek / Namibia and then to our rented camper over the north of Namibia through Botswana to Zimbabwe. It is simpler to fly from Windhoek to Victoria Falls / Zimbabwe. Here you are already in the middle of the „touristic center“ of Zimbabwe.

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TRAVEL TIME TO ZIMBABWE

Traveling to Zimbabwe is possible all year round. The year can be divided into three seasons, a hot rainy season from November to March, a cool dry season from May to August and a warm dry season from August to October.

The best time for safaris are the dry months from March to November. From June to September there is virtually no rain (good for safaris, bad to admire the impressive Victoria Falls). These can be best marveled at in the rainy season.

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ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES

One definitely needs to see the Hwange National Park. A glorious, albeit an „older“ wildlife reserve with a variety of camps to spend the night (many needs registering in advance!). Those who know the Etosha or Kruger National Park, will be astonished, how national parks in southern Africa can be so deserted. Safari without crowds of people – gorgeous. Anyone looking for a most gracious lodge in the middle of nature, which impresses with a magnificent organization, very professional guides and staff and in spite of solitude in the middle of the nature reserve does not want to give up luxury, should plan a trip to the Bomani Tented Lodge (by Imvelo Safari Lodges). We were blown away by this patch of earth. Sundowner sitting on the bonnet of our jeep and watching herds of elephants in the sunset, sitting at the campfire in the camp with the most delicious wines and a stunning barbecue buffet, listening at night from the bed to the feeding sounds of elephants and the animals at the on-site water hole, enjoying freshly baked bread in the morning before the next safari at six-thirty to watch the „king of beasts“ at close range. We spent stunning and priceless days at the Bomani Lodge. Anyone visiting Zimbabwe does not get to the Victoria Falls. Those who spent the days before in the deserted areas of the national parks are almost killed by the hustle and bustle of the crowds of tour buses.

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OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ZIMBABWE

Accommodation tested and determined good by us:

  • Bomani Tented Lodge (click), located just outside the Hwange National Park
  • Gorges Lodge (click), located right on the gorge of Victoria Falls (the Zambezi River). Breathtaking views!
  • Condor flights to Windhoek or South Africa, and then cheaply with e.g. Air Namibia to Victoria Falls.
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*This journey was sponsored by Imvelo Safari LodgesCondorLens Avenue,Engelhorn and Asco Car Hire*

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LOVELETTER FOR PETER ISLAND

If the paradise does exist, or if the people in heaven need a suggestion for a paradise, I have found one here…

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When I was a child, there always were these moments of „when I grow up, then…“ Now I am „grown up“ and suddenly, these moments are called „when I become older, then…“. For almost a year, there has been a man’s name on this list: Peter. Doesn’t sound all that impressive. But Peter is an island. A dream island, like in a book. And I want to go back there. „When I become older, I want to go back to this paradise Peter Island„. A love letter to a small piece of land with a lot of turquoise water around…

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Peter Island, you small sophisticated isle, you have done something to me. It’s not as if I hadn’t been able to see dream islands before, but this small island with an unimpressive name, which I visited in March of 2014 during my trip to the British Virgin Islands, lingers in my mind. On one side, raw beauty with secluded bays, on the other, a luxury resort (dear lady breakfast chef, whose name I unfortunately forgot – you were so right. I never never ever had such a stunningly good French toast for breakfast again). And everything surrounded by the crystal-clear, Caribbean sea. When I recall my time there, in my mind I can feel the bitter-sweet taste of the excellent home-made ginger lemonade, I can dig my feet into the white sand, eat fish tacos for lunch in a beach restaurant, and after lunch get a good massage in one of the best wellness areas of the world, before bringing myself back to life by jumping into an infinity pool from my oasis of relaxation. Life is good. And life on Peter island is even a little bit better.

25_ergebnisUntitled1_ergebnisFor a sundowner, it’s ginger lemonade again, and the golf caddy takes me to the highest point of the island. In these typically American, colourfully painted deck chairs I watch the sunset, and it feels like the world (as well as a zillion of other BVI islands) is at my feet. A fish BBQ on the beach concludes my fantastic day.

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Around 11 pm a boat shuttle brings me back to the „reality“, to Tortola, together with countless workers in their best mood and a steel drum band. The guys give everyone a beer, instead of the sophisticated Sauvignon Blanc, they laugh and joke, and I become part of the cordial crew for the time of the ride. We agree to meet at a boat fair in my home city, where the guys perform on stage as THE attraction at a Caribbean party. Pinch me, the world is so small.Untitled2

At this moment I decided, „I want to go back to Peter Island“…

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I am sure one day we will see each other again … since you are simply incredible, you fantastic spot of land with your amazingly likeable people!

The best way to get to this incredible place? Flight from Frankfurt to San Juan/Puerto Rico with Condor and then with a small plane to Beef Island/Tortola (British Virgin Islands).

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Cityguide Panama

There are those moments when I can hardly believe my luck. First I was allowed to fly to Panama for Condor and then they let me stay in a stunning AirBnB apartment.

Hello life – are you great, or what! Yes, sometimes I am really the lucky one.

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We know Panama, don’t we? We think so, at any rate. It was some time at the end of the 80s (?) when a certain Mr Janosch somehow suggested that tigers, bears and stripey ducks were in some way connected with Panama. Hardly anyone who grew up in Germany and is now a twenty-something failed to come across Janosch and his comic characters as a child, and somehow this book that told us „Oh how lovely Panama is“ became ubiquitous.

 The rest of the world who had to grow up without the book know Panama mostly only from „Oh, that’s the country with the canal“. Yes of course, the country with the canal. 21

But nobody knows that Panama City is a really individual, charming international metropolis. I became aware of this when I got a lot of questions about an Instagram picture. I was getting baffled emails with „What? I thought you were in Panama? Why are you standing in front of skyscrapers?“825This is reason enough to present a short city guide of Panama.

My tip for Panama City:

Look for accommodation through AirBnB. I have never found such an enormous choice of private apartments with the wow effect anywhere before. During my stay in Panama City I was able to stay in a wonderful AirBnB apartment (click). 28th floor. Right on the seafront. From my bed I could enjoy the sunrise. During the day I could see the ships waiting to enter the Panama Canal. And in the evenings I could enjoy the sunset, with a sundowner in my hand, from our balcony. Before my trip to Panama I was already a big AirBnB fan – but this apartment put everything I had experienced before in the shade (ok, the AirBnB house in Puerto Rico – click – was bewitchingly beautiful). We booked it at home and picked up the key at the reception desk. Really easy. My own little apartment in Panama City. I am enamoured of the AirBnB approach (unique accommodation run by local suppliers) and can highly recommend it to anyone.

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– Avoid the old town (Casco Viejo) at night! If you want to go there to eat, take a taxi right to the restaurant and back afterwards. All the locals, from taxi drivers to restaurant owners, impressed upon us from the start not to wander round the dark lanes at night.

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– Do you want to take a train trip the length of the Panama Canal (starting in Panama City, going to Colon and then the return journey)? You really have to book a place in the wagon with the glass roof and pack a good bottle of wine for the journey 🙂

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– A shopping trip through Panama City? Yes, but if you are looking for cheap designer clothes you will be disappointed. Panama’s prices are practically as high as in Europe and it is rare to find a true bargain.

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A summary of my city trip to Panama City: an unconventional and yet unbelievably charming and endearing town with a big city atmosphere and gloriously original spots.

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I love it!

*Thanks to AirBnB and Condor for this awesome experience*

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Take the Plunge!

Bam. Here I sit. In the middle of a long-cherished dream. And as I look over my sun lounger and blink at the innumerable little islands surrounding me, I try to realize that in this moment, my dream has become reality.

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Here’s what happened…

I am freak about certain things. I always have been. As a kid, my favorite shows weren’t Disney and Co.; I preferred to watch cooking shows and the travel shows. At some point, I could hardly have been older than 10, I saw a report about the British Virgin Islands. I had no idea what or where they were, but I was fascinated by what I saw. Endless white beaches, palm trees, and water so clear that you could peer right through it to watch the fish swimming around under the surface. In the years that followed, little Anja scribbled the “British Virgin Islands” on every dream vacation sweepstake ticket she could find in magazines and supermarkets. My submissions were probably disqualified sheerly because they were written by a child, for whom such a dream destination would be too far off. The melodious name of the islands swirled around in my head for years, but it faded and was almost forgotten after a while. Then, when we sailed through the southern Caribbean two years ago (click here) and commented on how unbelievably beautiful the BVIs (short form of the British Virgin Islands) were, my old love for the islands was rekindled.

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Already as we were preparing for our trip to Puerto Rico in March of this year (click here), my eyes were drawn to the right side of the map. Situated to the east of Puerto Rico and a little further east than their larger U.S. Virgin Island “brothers” (St. Thomas & St. John), my childhood dream basks in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and lures with enticing names such as “Tortola,” “Virgin Gorda,” and “Jost van Dyke.”

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„It really would be a shame not to hop over now that we are closer than we’ll ever be…“

Just take the plunge! Seize the day. A spontaneous side trip from Puerto Rico right into my childhood dream.

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Booking the domestic flight from Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory) to the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas) was easy online. Affordable (approximately 110USD round-trip) and uncomplicated with a flight time of 35 minutes. After a night on St. Thomas, we took the ferry further into Paradise (admittedly, while many people love St. Thomas, I was thrilled to leave the island again after about 10 hours because of the masses of cruise tourists due to the duty free shopping, etc.). After a short stop on Tortola, the main island of the BVIs, our next ferry carried us over to Virgin Gorda.

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The name alone gives me goose bumps. Virgin Gorda, the third-largest of the British Virgin Islands (a quite quaint 16 km long and 5 km wide) is a nature lover’s dream. Snow-white beaches and water that is bluer than blue. The main attraction, “The Bath,” is a collection of washed up granite formations that even set the scene of a James Bond film.

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For two lovely days, we explored the island in our Jeep convertible (from Mahogany Rental). Admittedly, this is definitely not the place to take a low budget vacation – even the local supermarket charges the equivalent of 6 euros for a small canister of water.

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We stayed at Fisher’s Cove Beach Hotel, a small but quaint and bright cottage hotel with a beach front location. With cottages available for $650 per week (excluding breakfast), the hotel offers some of the most affordable accommodations on Virgin Gorda. Despite the fact that we were there in the middle of the tourist season in March, we had the hotel almost to ourselves at times, which was, of course, a pleasant perk. The adjoining restaurant serves upscale local cuisine with American portion sizes.

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My tips for Virgin Gorda:

–        Visiting “The Bath.” Insider’s tip: Don’t take the first bay but follow the path to the left. Fewer people and an even better bay.

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–        A day trip to the north end of the island to Baker’s Bay (fitting street name: Road to Jetty) where you catch the free shuttle boat over to Bitter End Yacht Club, a luxury resort on its own “island” that us normal mortals could never afford – complete with a private port full of yachts and magnificent beaches. Visitors are kindly tolerated and can find beautiful, secluded bays away from the other tourists and hotel guests.

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–        A rental car with an open roof. There is nothing better than letting the wind blow through your hair while you marvel at the beauty of the landscape.

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–        Inquire about local holidays, as many restaurants are closed and the ferries (to Tortola, etc.) follow altered and limited schedules.

–        Don’t forget your bathing suit! 😉

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After two splendid days on the island, it was time for us to say goodbye to Virgin Gorda. We traveled to Tortola, the main island of the British Virgin Islands.

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In contrast to Virgin Gorda, Tortola is “grown up” and more established. Considerably rougher and steeper than Virgin Gorda, yet studded with beautiful beaches.

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My tips for Tortola:

–        Beef Island is at the eastern end of Tortola and connected to the island by a bridge. This is where the airport is. So, the most uncomplicated way to reach the island is to fly directly from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Beef Island, Tortola and avoid the entry and exit formalities on the ferries from St. Thomas.

–        Highly recommended on Tortola: a car. A mountain stretches 600 feet into the sky on this mini island that is a mere 19 km long. We booked a rental car in advance through Avis, but I would go with a local rental agency if I were to do it again.

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–        Private surfing lessons in the Josiah Bay. Despite the chaotic organization, the bay is a dream. And learning how to surf in front of this backdrop is stunning. The course lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours and costs around 100 euros.

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–        For those of you who have saved a little more in your piggy banks: Splurge on a night at the Long Bay Beach Club. The most beautiful beachfront accommodations for suitable, though not really reasonable prices. Great ambiance and beautifully renovated. Insider’s tip: Dine at the in-house restaurant – incredibly delicious meals.

–        We stayed at Sebastian’s on the Beach (on the neighboring Apple Bay) and had a Tropical Yard room. Simple, functional accommodations with small rooms (though the pictures promise a bit more!). Still, perfectly adequate for us.

–        Enjoy a pancake breakfast in the „Sailors Rest“ along the harbor at the north end of the Cane Garden Bay. To die for!

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–        Avoid Cane Garden Bay when cruise ships are docked at Road Town, causing the beautiful bay to nearly overflow with tourists and tour busses.

–        Plan enough time between flights and ferry rides. Since you constantly have to switch back and forth between British and U.S. territories, doing so involves the typical U.S. immigration formalities and paperwork (a bit strange because walking through full-body scanners definitely doesn’t fit the Caribbean way of life!) and these take time.

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Although I have had the privilege of seeing many beautiful little islands, the British Virgin Islands are far ahead of the others in my book. If you love beaches and the ocean, this is the place for you. If you are looking for breathtaking views and dream of watching the sun set behind innumerable scattered little islands, you won’t be disappointed. During our winter months (October to March), you’ll have to compete with countless yachts and cruise ships, which definitely put a damper on the unbelievable quaintness and beauty of the islands. The locals’ secret: Plan a trip during our summer months, as it’s the off-season there and there won’t be any cruise ships. And despite the fact that the BVIs are in the Caribbean, they are situated above the hurricane belt and none of the locals we encountered could remember ever battling a storm. If you fly 9 hours from Frankfurt to Puerto Rico (for example, with Condor) and then take a direct flight to Beef Island, Tortola, you can be in Paradise in about 10 hours.

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Sweet dreams of far-off places, my dear ones,

Anja

*Thanks to the BVI Tourism Board and the Condor Airline for this awesome cooperation


Eating and Flying – Flying and Eating

If I had to name two passions of mine that I just couldn’t live without, it would be eating and flying. Obviously, this blog wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for my passion for food and for eating. But it might surprise you to learn that I am quite taken by flying.

6_ergebnisI love airports, with the typical scent of air travel wafting through the air and people waiting impatiently for their vacations to begin, and I could spend my days watching airplanes taking off and landing. I hate picking people up from the airport and having the smell of kerosene tickle my nose and a yearning to travel in my gut, but not being able to go on board. I flew a lot while growing up and am more familiar with the nearby airports than the train stations. As an airline kid, I loved it when my mother, rushing home for lunch, decided to grab the leftover aluminum trays with little foil covers for us to enjoy at home. Not knowing what was hiding under the foil cover and then using the plastic silverware to dig in while sitting at the dining room table was as exciting to me as a trip to the Golden Arches is to other kids. And on really good days, I could wash it all down with airplane orange juice from a little yogurt-like cup. Unfortunately, those days are gone and my lunches today are usually comprised of sandwiches instead of airplane cuisine.

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Because of my nostalgia as well as my enthusiasm for how good the service in the air often is, it just may happen that I pull out my camera when I am in an airplane to photograph the food in front of me so that I can recreate it at home. A few of my favorite salads hail from somewhere around 30,000 feet, such as the Peach Mozzarella Salad. I always discreetly ignore any smirky comments from my other half about serving such dishes in aluminum trays.

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You can imagine how excited I was when a package showed up at my door from Condor. Contents: An airplane place setting, including a tray, silverware, and diverse (aluminum) containers. And hiding behind it all, an invitation to test their service on board!

Oh how high I jumped for joy! I was so happy!

In an effort to rebut the reputation that “airplane food just doesn’t taste good” once and for all, I would like to present a recipe to you today for exemplary beef roulades (thin slices of beef rolled around a filling) that are so good they would make a good chef eat her heart out. Soooo delicious. I am still impressed by how perfectly cooked airplane food can be. Particularly because our taste buds need more “spice” at that height and the food has to be seasoned accordingly. I cooked these beef roulades at home as soon as I could – in the aluminum containers, as any perfectionist would have guessed. 🙂 Although beef roulades wouldn’t necessarily be considered a classical recipe for satisfying that hankering to travel, to me, these beef roulades will always be a magical reminder of a wonderful trip.

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Classic Beef Roulades “Up in the Air”

Serves 4

4 beef roulades (thin pieces of beef)

2 onions

2 large pickles

4 strips of bacon

2 tablespoons mustard

1 carrot, diced

½ leek, cut into thin rings

½ bottle of good red wine

½ liter beef stock

Salt, pepper, re-solidified butter

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Wash the pieces of beef and pat dry. Cut 1 onion in half and then into strips. Cut the pickles into long strips. Roughly dice 1 onion. Lay out the beef and brush with mustard, salt, and pepper. In the middle of each piece of meat, place some strips of onion, 1 piece of bacon, and the strips from approximately half a pickle each. Then, tuck in the ends, roll the beef into roulades, and tie them up using the cooking twine. In a large pot, melt the butter and sear the roulades on all sides. Remove them and set them aside.

Then, add the diced onion, the rings of leeks, and the diced carrots to the pot and sauté them until they start to take on some color. Add half a bottle of red wine slowly, always waiting until it steams and cooks to add some more. Then, add the beef stock and return the beef roulades to the pot. Simmer on low heat for 1 ½ hours. Season with salt and pepper and a little more red wine, if desired. Serve with potato dumplings and red apple cabbage.

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The only thing missing at the dining room table besides the friendly “Would you like something else to drink?” and the blockbuster movie on the entertainment system in front of your nose? The prospect of VACATION. For anyone who wants to try the Premium Menues on their flight, you can book them right here before your departure.

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Until then, take care,

Anja

A big thank you to Condor, Ms. Hauser, and everyone who made this special flight possible. It was a pleasure!

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