Archive for the “World Heritage” Category
I think that this month’s Brussels Girl Geek Dinner was the best I’ve ever experienced. When I read the description, I signed up instantly, glad to get onto the list while there was still room. Meeting other women interested in science and technology at the Hard Rock Café while playing with Lego bricks? Count me in.
The event was held on the fourth floor of the café, decorated with fascinating self portraits from members of bands like The Beatles, The Who, and U2. The windows opened up to the beautiful Grand Place, even more spectacular with its ever-changing technicolour display. We were welcomed by organiser Clo Willaerts, who gave us all a free copy of her latest book Altijd Naakt (Always Naked) on managing ones online identity.
We then met Erik Talboom, the co-founder of co-learning.be, and were introduced to the idea of co-creation using Lego Serious Play. Co-Learning helps companies build teams, design meetings, and improve innovation by leading targeted, fun, and innovative workshops. He grouped us into tables of five, dumped a pile of lego pieces in front of us, and asked us to create symbols of our best friend, our hobbies, and finally, the optimal Hard Rock Café experience. Plus, I was lucky enough to win a co-creation workshop of my own with the fastest tweet of the evening.
The evening ended with a chat with the Sales & Marketing Manager Guillermo Castells and Master Chef Arnel Del Rosario, and I learned that the Hard Rock business was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Native Americans for $965 million in 2007. We helped the chef construct our Legendary Burgers, and then sat down to enjoy dinner and some excellent conversation about artificial intelligence, linguistics, and corporate responsibility.
Thanks to @bnox for another fantastic evening.
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Recently I was lucky enough to be sent to Prague for an Immunology Congress. In addition to attending a dynamic summit, I managed to find some time to do a bit of sightseeing in between keynote sessions and meetings. I climbed all the way up to the millennia-old Prague Castle for a spectacular view across Vltava River and into the old town. I then wandered through the 15th Century Golden Lane, as well as St Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St George’s Basilica and the Daliborka Tower. The air was bitingly cold, but the snow gave a soft beauty to the town.
Posted by: Lydia in Tunisia, World Heritage, tags: Africa, Baby, beach, blue, markets, sand, white, winter, world heritage
When searching for a winter getaway, we had four main criteria:
- New Country
- Kid’s club for toddlers
Looking at our options, it appeared that Sousse, Tunisia was our best choice. It also had the following perks:
- Direct flight under 3 hours
- Within 90 minutes of 5 world-heritage sites
The day before we left, I quickly scanned the web to make sure that I had everything covered. Smartraveller.gov.au had given the country a yellow light (the same level as Mexico, Costa Rica, and India), no major incidents in the news, and Brussels airport was looking snow free. Though when I checked that no visa was required for UK and Australian citizens, I started to panic. I couldn’t believe that I had been so cavalier as to not check this earlier.
Having previously teased JT about not checking if he needed visa to Australia, and Adrian for Romania, I was now facing the same crisis myself. The Tunisian embassy was already closed for the week, so I had to do some quick googling to try to come up with a last minute solution. Most official websites stated that a visa must be obtained well in advance, but someone called BigBurp claimed in a 2010 web forum that Australians and South Africans were able to get a visa on arrival at Tunis airport, as long as they were able to pay in Tunisian Dinar. It wasn’t much to go on, but I exchanged some cash in Brussels and the next day boarded the plane with my fingers crossed. I had visions of Adrian using his UK passport to spend a week in our pre-paid hotel room by the beach, while Hayden and I were cooped up in our small apartment in rainy Brussels. However, a very friendly team of officials at Tunis airport happily created tourist visas on the spot, and we passed smoothly through immigration before our luggage trundled down the conveyor belt. I was so grateful for this stroke of luck that I promised myself I wasn’t allowed to complain about anything for the rest of the trip, and I would be much more careful about checking visa requirements in the future.
Indeed, it was a terrific holiday. For the first couple of days I did very little apart from send Hayden to the kids club and then nap, read, and relax at the spa. Mid way through our break I had regained some vigor, so we spent the remainder of our time visiting the World Heritage Medina of Sousse, city of Kairouan, Amphitheatre of El Jem, Archeological Site of Carthage, and the Medina of Tunis.
Hayden seemed to enjoy his first time in Africa – playing soccer, climbing up the stairs, eating sand, throwing food off the balcony (“uh oh”), waving to everyone, refusing vegetables, and indulging in the many treats brought to him by the waiters. Having a kids club made things so much easier for us; it was fantastic to be able to take a complete break for a few hours each day and then spend some quality time together. It was a fitting way to end the year and return to Brussels filled with sunshine and renewed energy for 2013.
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We arrived in Bharatpur, and happily, so did my luggage. I was overjoyed to be reunited with my hairbrush and clean clothes and shampoo and emergency medicine. It was also reassuring to be able to pop Hayden’s bottles in the steam steriliser every night (I had previously been sterilising them by filling them with boiling bottled water) and to use nappies from home. After sunset there were quite a few mosquitos in the hotel restaurant, our waiter spending his time in between courses vanquishing them with an electrified tennis raquet, and I was glad that we had all been taking Malarone to prevent malaria, especially as we had chosen not to use any mosquito repellent.
When we first arrived at the hotel, we noticed that they had several peacocks and peahens. At first we did not take much notice, as we had assumed that the owners had imported them and clipped their wings, as is common in Australia. It was only when we saw one of the peahens take flight that we recalled that the birds are native to this area and we had just seen our first wild peafowls.
The next morning we gathered at sunrise to take an early cycle rickshaw through the world heritage listed Keoladeo National Park, which contains artificial marshes first installed in 1763 by the Maharajas to improve their duck-hunting experiences. Since 1982 it has been a haven to 364 species of birds, and is an important breeding site for herons, storks and cormorants. We saw dozens of bird species during our hours in the park, along with some ruminants and a pair of Indian grey mongooses (but sadly no fishing cats).
Our naturalist pointed out a male jaçana bird following its baby. He told us that the bronze-winged jaçana birds are a species of waders, and it is the males who take responsibility for the care of the young, even carrying their offspring between their wings and body. He smiled and said to Adrian “just like you”.
We learned about the Intermediate Egret, identifiable by its yellow bill and black legs. I felt a bit sorry for the birds with such a demeaning name, and I thought that they were probably a bit jealous of the cute Little Egret and the impressive Great Egret.
With this adventure under our belt before breakfast, we returned to the hotel feeling quite accomplished. We said farewell to Kim who was flying back to Belgium, and prepared for a long dusty drive to Ranthambore National Park.
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