Nigeria – Six months in Abuja

Nigeria is a place I will never forget. The largest country in Africa in population and one of the richest country on natural resources in the world. 

Nigeria a place which you will either love it or hate it. I still have not decided..

Lagos is the largest city and is a place where about 20 million people live and work. Every day more Nigerians are coming to Lagos and the city is really over crowded. Most of the population lives in slums, in very poor conditions.

Abuja on the other hand is a very welcoming city to the expats. The city was build 40 years ago and it is the official capital of Nigeria. Wide roads, new buildings and a less crowded place than Lagos. People in Abuja are friendly and nice too. Most of the population lives in the outskirts of Abuja where the housing is more affordable and they come in the capital for work. Some of the people have to travel up to 2 hours to arrive to their homes but I never heard someone complaining.

They say Nigerians are highly corrupted. I believe that because the country is very rich in resources hence the population is starving. Hence, I have lived and worked there for 6 months and I have not a single corruption story to tell you. On the contrary, my experience was that Nigerian businessmen are trustworthy and honest. There are not really many things to do in Abuja apart from seeing the Zuma Rock, the football stadium and the really big Church downtown.

Abuja is the centre for the Diplomats and the government officials so you will find beautiful hotels and restaurants. I have stayed in most of the hotels in Abuja such as the Fraser Suites, the Hawthorn Suites, the SV Chrome and the beautiful boutique hotel Nordic Hotel and Nordic Villa.

It is advised to not walk alone in Abuja, so always use UBER – which has excellent drivers and I have never had any problem, or hire a driver from a company. They can be very flexible with their rates.

Eat at the hotels and at my favourite, Cafe de Vie in Maitama ! Read the Abuja Times to learn the latest news about the capital.

If you need to travel domestically please use the Air Peace. There are many airlines in Nigeria but they are not the best one when it comes to maintenance and there were many accidents reported. I have used the Air Peace several times and I have been told that is the best domestic airline. All the Air Peace flights are always fully booked so if you cannot find a ticket try with Bristow. It is more expensive and you will have to travel to the airport to get a ticket unless your company has an account with them.

One last advice, is to always have a lot of cash with you because the card scams in Nigeria is very often. Most of the ATMs are hacked and they will try to steal money from your bank account.

Abuja

TIP: Before travelling to Africa do not forget to have your World Health Organisation yellow booklet for the Africa Vaccines. Note that you would need to have the vaccines at least two weeks before travelling. For more info visit: https://www.who.int/ith/updates/20110427/en/

Tea Plucking in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

It is a really amazing experience as there are very few places in the world where you can experience it on its original version. Apart from Sri Lanka you can do it south India, in Kerala.

The road to Nuwara Eliya is long; it takes about 7 hours by car as the actual roads are pointy and narrow. You have to start really early to avoid traffic – 4am – as Sri Lankans are usually up by 5am! You may also use the train as it is very popular. The train is a great option as it is extremely cheap to purchase a first class ticket which normally costs 6 dollars ! The view from the train is breathtaking and it is highly recommended. Please do not expect a train like the ones in the western world, as trains are really old. Hence the overall experience is not luxury but it is not bad.

Reaching Nuwara Eliya, you will see why it is called “small England” as the houses will remind you of the British Era. There is a beautiful Golf Course in the middle of the city and a very well preserved park. In order to enter the park for the locals is free, but for the foreigners cost two dollars.

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Nuara Eliya 

There are plenty of small and big tea estates in the area. Some of them they have bungalows for rent or boutique hotels. In the bigger ones you will find activities which explain the way tea is produced and you will have the opportunity to tea pluck yourself. Unfortunately, tea plucking is not a very popular job these days as the wages are small and the people seek opportunities in the cities.

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The traditional Tea Plucking uniform

Nuwara Eliya is the birthplace of the famous Ceylon Tea and being there is a true once in a lifetime experience.

Tips:

  • in Nuara Eliya is always cold so bring warm clothes
  • Book hotels @ Jetwings Hotel  or The Grand Hotel
  • try the local cuisine
  • Ride Tuk Tuks – they are safe but negotiate the rate before entering

 

Anantara Peace Heaven Tangalle Resort

Looking through the window of the airplane as you are about to land in Sri Lanka you see a beautiful tropical jungle ! Sri Lanka is a unique place ! Is a beautiful island just below India and very close to the Maldives.

After landing you take a car and you travel about 4 hours to reach the ultimate heaven! The Anantara Peace Heaven Tangale Resort is a brand new resort and the first of the Anantara group in Sri Lanka.

I cant really describe how amazing my experience at this resort was.

Although we arrived very late at night, the check in was a fantastic experience. Our driver got complementary accommodation in the resort for as long as we were staying there.

The fist night we checked in to a beautiful garden villa but the next day we asked to be upgraded and got the most amazing ocean view pool Villa you will ever see! All villas are really spacious and the bathrooms are massive with luxurious amenities.

Extra Luxury : Each villa has a Butler service

The management of the this hotel really thought of everything !! Inside the villa you can find flip-flops (in case you didn’t bring with you), a bag for the swimming pool, 3 kind of pillows, even a anti-mosquito gel.

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My Ocean View Villa

The breakfast was huge as well! They are offering wonderful selection of every kind of breakfast you can think of: from international, to Arabic and Chinese. All the fruits were really tasty and fresh. Do not forget to try the amazing coconuts!

Beautiful to See: The resort has a local person who climbs the coconut trees and cuts the fruits to be served to the guests!

Although the infinity pool is beautiful we fell in love with the beach. The sun beds were really comfortable, the staff very nice and very considerate.

Extra Pampering: Once you were siting in the pool or in the beach, the staff would bring you the towels and a basket with: two bottles of water, a pair of flip flops, 2 fresh oranges and a sun block!

Everyone in the hotel is really friendly and polite. They were extremely helpful. The Resort also offers 3 restaurants and 3 spots for private dining.

I would definitely recommend the Private Dining as the set menu is really massive and delicious.

Once in Sri Lanka you have to try the sea food and especially the crabs, the lobster and the shrimps. Do not miss the curries ! Although most of them are really spicy, the taste is rewarding!

Enjoy !

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The Italian Restaurant

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Sri Lanka Map

Check the Map 🙂

Book here : http://tangalle.anantara.com/

 

Hotel Review : Sharq Village & Spa – Managed by The Ritz Carlton

Less than 10 minutes from the Hamad International Airport in Doha, a paradise is waiting for you!

The Sharq Village and Spa, managed by the Ritz Carlton is awaits you in the most quiet place of the vibrant city of Doha ! This Resort was build many years ago but the Ritz Carlton managed to maintain its beautiful features. The resort follows a complete Arabic style with beautiful external and interior design.

The same design applies in the room. The resort offers, standard rooms and exclusive suites. Even the smallest room is special.

Sharq Village & Spa-rooms

The beach area has a magnificent view of Doha’s shoreline with the skyscrapers. When the weather is hot, is definitely a very romantic spot to have a private dinner on the beach.

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For more details visit: http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/qatar/sharq-village

Museo Atlantico: New Underwater Museum in Lanzarote, Spain

On the 25th of February 2016, a strange museum “opened” in Spain. The artist Jason deCaires Taylor installed the first phase of sculptures in Museo Atlantico. This is the first underwater museum of contemporary art in the waters of the coast of Lanzarote in Spain.

The visitors must dine into 14 meters underwater to have a tour. Is is a unique installation project dedicated to the humanitarian crisis of our days.

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“The project drawing on the dialogue between art and nature is designed on a conversational level to create a large scale artificial reef to aggregate local fish species and increase marine biomass whilst, on the other hand, to raise awareness to current threats facing the worlds oceans. The main installation, The Rubicon features a group of 35 people walking towards a gate, a point of no return or a portal to another world.”

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You may think its scary but the true numbers of the people who died trying to reach Europe the past two years are beyond scary. This is a tribute to the lost souls; the people who escaped from the war zones, put their lives in danger and they got lost in the sea.

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For further press details contact:
www.jasondecairestaylor.com
info@underwatersculpture.com
Spain: +34 649 076 224

Botswana Tales #2: Safari at Chobe National Park

The safari is surely one of the most interesting experiences in life and not everyone will be able to live it. But mark my words: it is worth it!

After spending four months in Botswana, I managed to organise a safari in the famous Chobe National Park. Definitely the Okavango Delta is the most famous attraction of Botswana and I would not disagree but the Chobe National Park is equal in beauty and it is full of the wild life.

 Tip: You can access the Kasane area via road, it takes about 6 hours drive from Gaborone and you will need to use a 4×4 vehicle, or by air with Air Botswana. The flight takes about 2 hours.

We started our tour with a river safari. The river is the natural boarder between Botswana and Namibia. It is magnificent to see two countries, separated by a wide river. Our driver was experienced and he was explaining all the kind of details. There are several animals living inside and around of this river such as hippos, crocodiles, impalas, buffalos, elephants as well as all kind of birds.

The river tour takes about 3 hours and the waters are very dangerous. Luckily the guides really know how close they can go to the animals and they are really careful.

Tip: The best season to have a safari in Botswana is from May to October – before the raining season

The following day we woke up 5am to start the real safari inside the National Park. The guide told us, that early morning is the best time to see the predators in action! The tour started at 5:30 and lasted until 11am. It was an amazing experience although we were not able to see the Lions.. This is what happens in the wild.. you have to be lucky; you do not have a date with the animals.

However, we saw a family of elephants, we saw the african buffalos, we saw lots of impalas, many wild boars, hawks, the african wild cat, wild rabbits and baboons. I have to admit, the most friendly animals are the elephants and the giraffes!

Tip: The are is not Malaria free. The visitor is advised to use the anti mosquito spray called, peaceful sleep , on the body and on the clothes.

At the same day, we had also a night safari; started at 10pm for only an hour! It is a bit scary because the night in the park is really dark and the driver is looking for the eyes of the animals. Despite that, I would definitely recommend it as it is a very special experience.

On the last day, we decided to visit one of the village. The people in the villages in Kasane are really poor. Although they have a school, not all children are attending the classes. The life for the people is harsh. That is why, we decided to buy books, colouring pencils and cookies for the children of the village. The amount we spent was very small, but we felt we contributed a little to these children. When you are around them, you feel you are not doing enough for them; but no matter how small is the contribution it is worth it !

*Tip: Gather a small amount and buy something for the kids; clothes, shoes, food or school supplies are always welcome.

**Dress Tips:

#1: Buy fake hair and do some braids on your head! It is really comfortable when you are in the wild because it can last up to a week and you do not need to worry on washing them!

#2: Always wear hats and long-sleeves! Try to cover as much of your body as possible.

Some more pictures!

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*all photos taken by me