Monthly Archives: March 2018

Keukenhof – Welcome to the Garden of Europe!

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Hello Spring! I’ll be in Amsterdam soon, so let’s talk tulips!!! ūüĆ∑ūüĆ∑

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Keukenhof, which translates from Dutch to “kitchen garden”, is one of the largest, most beautiful flower gardens in the world! Located in Losses, Netherlands, which is not too far from Amsterdam, Keukenhof Park is home to approximately 7 million flower bulbs covering 79 acres of land planted annually. The Gardens and pavilions display eye-catching collections of not only tulips, but daffodils, orchids, hyacinths, roses, carnations, lillies, irises and many more varieties of flowers! You would think you were swimming in a sea of flowers! Be ready to be overwhelmed with a spectacular array of colors and fragrance!

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Keukenhof does not contain the typical long, traditional fields of tulips one may expect. You can find those everywhere around Holland though; and there are many right outside the park, so you won’t have to trek far to find one! They are normally privately owned.

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Screenshot_20180321-132055The park has an indoor section as well as a beautiful fountain and let’s not forget the castle of¬†Keukenhof! You can also take a boat ride around the lake to view the flowers and surroundings in a more scenic way.Screenshot_20180321-134354

 

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Screenshot_20180321-132215In Keukenhof, there are a variety of different gardens and garden styles you will find, such as the English landscape garden, the historic garden, the Japanese garden, etc. There is also a different theme each year, so you will never see the same setup twice! This unique space in the world attracts over a million visitors every year!Screenshot_20180321-132515

 

 

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Note: The park is only opened from the 22nd of March to the 13th of May (so go NOW!!) from 8am to 7:30pm daily. There is a Flower Parade as well, which will be held on the 21st of April.

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Unfortunately, I may actually miss it by just a day, or maybe I can try to make it my first day in Amsterdam, so watch this space!

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~Karen Bahri

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Valpara√≠so – Chil√©’s city of artists!

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A short two hours, but worlds away, from Santiago lies a secret Chil√© would like to keep to itself. No frills here – it’s dirty, dusty and there’s not much to do; which might be why many are so drawn to this little port town.

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Valpara√≠so, which means ‘Paradise Valley’ in Spanish, is a vibrant port city on Chil√©‚Äôs coast.

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The city is known for its steep funiculars and colorful clifftop homes. It’s gritty but authentic, and can¬†be described as a city with an edgy air of ‘anything goes.’

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Although Santiago is more widely known,Valparaíso is more popular to some visitors due to its historic faded beauty of its chaotic cerros (hills), some of the best street art in Latin America, a maze of steep, sinuous streets, alleys and its escaleras (stairways) which are piled high with crumbling mansions.

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Poets, painters and philosophers have long been drawn to Chil√©’s most unusual city.

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An artist named Pablo Neruda, who became completely inspired by this hard-working port town, said it best when he said: ‘Valpara√≠so, how absurd you are‚Ķyou haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.’

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Poetry and art decorate the walls, from large scale murals to little hidden-away pieces. Graffiti plays a large part in making sections of the city very colorful and enticing ‚Äď it’s as if there is a free art gallery that adds a new exhibit to its collection every day!

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You can spend a few sunny days and many lost hours wondering and exploring the small cobbled streets and winding roads.

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The best time to visit would be the start of spring, which, since they are in the southern hemisphere starts in October. In Valparaiso, the first few days of October are celebrated with the Mil Tambores festival, and traditional dancers, markets, free concert and street parties take over the city!

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Take note though – on the last day of the festivities, it all goes a little bit crazy (picture Carnival-style) Nakedness, painted bodies, debauchery by the beach, lots of booze and crowds! Its basically Carnival Latino style!

Lastly, if you are like me, and always looking for a beach –¬†a day-trip to Vi√Īa del Mar is definitely something you can do!

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Popular with the wealthier Santiaguinos, Vi√Īa del Mar has a bit of a resort feel as well as some of the best nightlife in town. Coming here will make you feel like you are actually on a relaxing holiday away from the chaos!

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-Karen Bahri

Boulder Beach

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Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town, which is right outside Cape Town, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Ancient granite boulders protect from the wind (it gets a tad blowy in the middle of the day!) large waves, and soft sand make for the ideal swimming spot for adults and children alike.

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Because it falls under the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, the beach is always clean and safe. It’s rarely crowded, which comes at the cost of a small conservation fee. This small fee is definitely worth it for the luxury of a clean, stunning beach! You don’t want to be disappointed on a beach day in this South African paradise!

Looks alone will definitely draw crowds to this beach, and yes, Cape Town definitely has no shortage of stunning beaches, but Boulders Beach in False Bay has an extra special treat for beach bums – PENGUINS!

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Yes! There is a colony of African Penguins in all their smartly dressed tuxedos, waddling gloriously on the white sand. In fact, they are the only penguins found on the ENTIRE continent and currently, there are only 26,000 breeding pairs left in the whole world!

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Unfortunately the African Penguin has been classified as an endangered species – due to over-fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and irresponsible tourism activities. The Boulders Beach colony has also felt the effect, as numbers have been dwindling over the last couple of years.

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Unfortunately as well, they are also¬†widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray. I don’t know how you could have the nerve to call these cute little tuxedoed out creatures such a name! They only grow up to 4.9-7.7 lbs!!

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Another fun feature is they have pink (!) glands above their eyes, which are used for thermoregulation. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood is sent to these glands so it may be cooled by the surrounding air, thus making the glands more pink!

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Something to keep in mind if you decide to go for a visit –¬†do not try to feed or get too close to the penguins.¬†Boulders Beach is¬†one of the few sites where this vulnerable bird can be observed at close range, but they are wandering freely in a protected natural environment.

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While they may look cute, they‚Äôre still wild animals with razor sharp beaks. If you decide to approach them , they will think you are trying to harm them, so they will attack! Don’t risk it!

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Personally, I am not a huge animal fan at all lol (you are probably like “I do not understand why this girl is writing about animals, she hates them!” – haha) that being said, yes, to your surprise, I do think some animals are cute – FROM AFAR, but please don’t touch or come anywhere close to me!!! So these rules I appreciate ūüôā HA!

-Karen Bahri