Jordan 2007

Precisely 10 years ago, I have had the privilege to discover Petra (Jordan)…

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The grandeur of the place.

Inimitable grace.

Petra, unparalleled.

The sun makes it unreal,

Paint it great, what a thrill!

Petra, still unequalled.

[from “Eighty-One Stopovers” – Cédric H. Roserens – 2015]

Tales from the Kingdom of Denmark

Flag_of_Denmark.svg   Flag_of_the_Faroe_Islands.svg   125px-Flag_of_Greenland.svg

One Kingdom, three nations: Denmark (Danmark, in Danish), Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat, in Greenlandic) and Faroe Islands (Føroyar, in Faroese). Three nations with distinct cultures, languages and landscapes. Counting Greenland’s more than 2 millions square kilometres, Denmark would be the 12th biggest country on Earth! Without Greenland, it drops to position 130, just ahead of Switzerland. Faroe Islands is the smallest of the three nations, with its 1399 square kilometres. Giant Greenland and tiny Faroe share a common point: population – about 50,000 in each case, thus hundred times less than the nation of Denmark.

My first Danish experience took place in 2010 on my way to Iceland. It was an unexpected night stay in a hotel near the airport, as the flight to Iceland was postponed until the next morning. Not seen much.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

The second stop was more prolific, on my way back from Iceland, as it was a 3-nights stopover, including an international football game between… Denmark and Iceland! I got the opportunity to discover the colourful Nyhavn district of Copenhagen, but no little mermaid, as she was in Shanghai for the Universal Exposition. That stop gave me the chance to visit Hillerød and its exquisite castle by the lake, Castle Frederiksborg.

Many other short stops followed, always on my way to or from Iceland. Recently, we did a longer stop, true Danish holidays indeed, in a country within the country, Legoland. Even the French fries are shaped as Lego there! A world in its own, fun for children as for adults. As we flew from Copenhagen, we stopped briefly on our way back from Legoland in Odense on Funen Island, the home town of HC Andersen. Just one advice: whatever the island you are on in Denmark, try the pastries. Just try! Postpone your diet and try! Did I tell you to try?

Faroe Island became a target on my travel map as soon as I was living in Iceland. Just a short one-hour flight away from Reykjavík city centre, no hesitation! It was late September 2013, the birds were gone (the ones who attract tourists), so were most of the tourists. The expected windy weather did not refrain me to go by ferry or bus to most of the major islands of the archipelago, even if my stay was a short one.

Klaksvík (Borðoy)

The first highlight occurred during the flight, though. Free Faroese beers, free sandwich with fresh Faroese salmon. Undoubtedly the best salmon I have tasted so far (sorry Iceland). Rainbows, sheepyscapes, impressive cliffs, sheep and more sheep, a yummylicious fish soup and other yummy fish dishes, green hills and some fancy statues, that sums up my Faroese short experience in one sentence.

Last but not least, Greenland. Being located as close as Reykjavík city centre as Faroe Islands are, I did not resist long either and went there in 2013 as well. It was July. We spent just 4 days with my future wife, but I would consider it the equivalent to 8 days, as it was bright and sunny 24 hours a day. So is July above the polar circle. We even got sunburned. In Greenland. Read it again. Yes. You read it right. The flight itself was a highlight, not for salmon or beer, but for iceberg spotting and flying over the massive and impressive island of ice.

Ilulissat

Destination: Ilulissat, west coast, the third largest “city” with its 5,000 inhabitants. A truly amazing place with the nearby Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. An icefjord that let you speechless by its beauty, an icefjord that forces me to use the dictionary of synonyms to describe it properly: gorgeous, splendid, magnificent, grandiose, imposing, impressive, majestic, outstanding, sublime, sumptuous and superb. To say the least! A midnight cruise in the bay, amongst the iceberg coming from the icefjord, is a must-do! The same goes for a (few hours’ boat ride north) day trip to Eqi glacier, Greenland’s answer to Argentina’s Perito Moreno, with its huge blocks of ice collapsing every few minutes in the sea. A Greenlandic buffet is a must-try (not much other choices anyway), with muskoxen and seal soup coming along with other delicacies.

Do not hesitate to share your Danish memories below, as a comment…

Tales from Kenya, etc.

Have I been to Kenya? Yes, I have a Kenyan visa stamped on my passport! It was in December 2007. I slept in Nairobi. I drank a beer there with my friends Pascal, Darell and Pierre-Alain, on my way to Tanzania from Switzerland, via Doha (Qatar). I took the bus from Nairobi through the Rift Valley Province down south to the border with Tanzania. But have I visited Kenya? Not really. Just been there. On my way to… Many places are “on our way to…” – we have been there but not really with the feeling to have visited the place, as it was on our way to the goal and not the goal itself. It is still part of the experience of a traveller. Big part of it. Long are the travel days to destination.

It was shorter, though, on the way back, early January 2008, much shorter, as we were in the aftermath of the Kenyan presidential elections and the results were contested, with violence. We flew from Zanzibar to Nairobi, then took our return flight home via Doha. We stayed inside the airport. No more Nairobi experience. As in Doha. Thus I do not consider having been in Qatar, even if my feet were technically on Qatari ground. But I did not go through the customs. I was not formally in Qatar. I was not formally in Poland either, on my way back from Russia to Switzerland. Just at Warsaw airport jumping from plane to plane.

On the other hand, I do count Malaysia as a place I have been to, as I entered formally in the country in December 2000 with a duly stamped visa, on my way to Australia from Zurich, Switzerland. But all I remember was a bus ride to a day hotel, a copious Malaysian buffet and a long siesta! No doubt Malaysia has much more to offer!

Do not hesitate to share your stopover memories below, as a comment…