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Travel Journal Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Travel Journal

What To Do In London After Your First Trip

monty's seven dials market

London can feel at times like a dignified, obese man and all the people in it red blood cells getting by just enough to avoid causing a heart attack. You can meet him for a moment and see his proud hat, notice the odor, and after a trip or two think you’ve seen enough not to see more again.

This is where I found myself, somewhere in the third or fourth time I visited London, England. Knowing this year I’d be going again, for the (probably 8 or 9th time) since you voted it Best City in 2019, I though it was time to sit you down with London.

Let’s Talk

Yes, you can see Westminster and the visually jarring London Eye. Go to a pub, have a pint, visit the Tower of London – truly one of the easiest cities to have a first date with. Like with many massive cities (Istanbul, New York I’m looking at you), it’s natural to think that’s all there is to do. All that remains is just rat racing.

hyde park london england

The fringes though are where it gets interesting because those are where you’ll find the borderlands between locals, immigrants, and tourists hoping to get off some beaten path they saw on Instagram. London is not the most approachable place to get to know, it has to warm up to you and you to it.

Over Lunch?

Break bread with the city at a place in Seven Dials Market. Hipster haven full of whatever your particular preference, allergy, or indulgence might be. Take for example Monty’s, where you can find salted beef, pastrami, smoked salmon, and other classic deli fare. They call it “Jewish soul food” recently opened at Seven Dials after the closure of its flagship store.

Walk around the side streets shows on the map in my video above to try various other street foods from around the world nearby. You can learn a lot about a city from what it likes to snack on.

Head To The Hanging

A long, slightly isolating walk to Captain Kidd, a pub baring the name of the Scottish pirate who was hung nearby in 1701. Some nights you could probably write an entire evening television lineup based on the expressions of the patrons. Plenty of sarcasm for your comedy, drama politely loud enough to be overhead, and the occasional glassy eyes reflecting light between depressed and delighted.

Slightly bumping back to the nearest tube stop later in the evening, remember as you tip tap down the damp stairs that someone probably much drunker than you photographed Sir Winston Churchill’s ghost down below.

I for one, don’t quite see it but stare close enough, long enough, and you can vaguely begin to make out a shape. A lot like this city, London; hard to make out if you stick to the center but on occasion can become ever so tangible if you head to the fringes wherever you happen to find them.

Destination Star Trek Birmingham Review: Stuck At Impulse

Having recently attended Europe’s official Star Trek Convention Destination in Birmingham, it was hard not to compare it to Creation’s Las Vegas convention. These two events regularly trade places as the world’s largest gathering of Trekkies worldwide but Destination can learn a lot from its more mature competitor.

You can watch my full review and see some of the best cosplay from Destination Star Trek in the video above or read on. (For non-fans, here’s why people go to Star Trek conventions at all.)

Good Start

Despite thousands of attendees gathering in a massive convention hall, Destination Star Trek felt more like a smaller fan-run show. Having a huge wide open space in the National Exhibition Center (NEC) meant never feeling cramped and it was easy to get around. Unfortunately, this also meant that the speakers from various talks would often overlap, making them difficult to hear. Talks which were mostly not free to enter either, something you would have to have known weeks in advance to even see the most popular actors.

birmingham england

For some, the option to have weekend tickets, day tickets, plus have tickets that include some talks might be desirable. Generally though a more straightforward all-inclusive set of options would be less confusing and expensive overall. Hate luggage fees? Destination Star Trek’s ticket model feels too similar.

Space Seeds To Improve Upon

Like the paragraphs above show, the good parts of Destination Star Trek invariably lead to revealing its poor execution. Large open space? Great. Places to sit and take a break? Not many convenient ones inside. Cosplay? Enthusiastic but contest showing was obscured. Side events? A few. Where are they? Not clear nor are what the entry tickets include.

destination star trek 2019

Destination was very much more like a Star Trek trade show, rather than an immersive Comic-Con style weekend. Sci-fi television is what brings people through the door but meeting other fans, having drinks, and all the other reasons people people socialize is what keeps everyone coming back.

Learning From Vegas

The Las Vegas Convention despite its largest variety of talks and vendors, is ideal for hanging out. It’s what brings Star Trek fans back year after year, to hang out with the friends they’ve made at prior conventions. All the talks are included with the price of admission and there are plenty of seats to sit with several bar/cafe areas close to the action.

It has taken Creation’s Las Vegas Star Trek Convention a few years to recognize the need for these elements. Destination has a few other good starts like professional moderators (Las Vegas’ Convention co-founder shoehorning himself into insufferable fan-gushing over actors derails far too many talks.) Destination Star Trek’s Birmingham NEC location also had a good food selection (Las Vegas’ options are terrible and terribly overpriced) plus the staff were very friendly and helpful.

In the closing remarks the founder of Destination Star Trek mentioned his desire to improve the young (8 year old) convention year after year. Hopefully attendees will respond to their feedback emails and share this post as well – Destination has a lot of potential that will hopefully be realized before warp drive.

Holy Everest Is One Of Berlin’s Best Restaurants And Inspiring Immigrant Stories

Rajesh Lama’s life is the kind of story you might probably associate with America and it’s well marketed the dream. What you might not know is that Germany is the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants, creating opportunities for both locals and the new members of its society who now call it home.

Berlin in many ways is a city that embodies what multiculturalism can be and at Holy Everest you’ll not only enjoy a good meal, but leave with a strong affinity for a country you may never have visited. You can watch Rajesh’s full story in the video above or read on.

Nepali Cuisine From Every Elevation

10 years ago, Rajesh was a trekking guide in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, where he learned to cook hearty foods at altitude for his guests. Cooking is an important mountain skill to have, especially in case the other cook happens to come down with altitude sickness. Nepal has roughly three broad groups of cuisine, all representing various climate altitudes in a country that’s 75% mountainous.

holy everest berlin

As a guide he met a lot of people from around the world, first visiting Europe as a tourist, eventually relocating to Germany. After some time Rajesh made it to Berlin, a city with no mountains or obvious application of his Himalayan skill set. Yet with an instinctual sense of German efficiency fueled by a contagious passion to obtain contentment through purpose, Rajesh began to analyze his situation.

Learning The Cultural Landscape

As a guide Rajesh was exposed to many cultures, different types of people, and ways of thinking. At first in Berlin he began an intensive German course to learn the language, later working in hotels where he could put his language skills to use. As time passed, he eventually got to know Berlin, coming across the street food festival at Markthalle Neun.

Noticing there wasn’t any Nepalese food at the fair combined with the disappointment that most of the “Nepali” food in Berlin was actually Indian or Pakistani sparked an idea with Rajesh.

Momo Man Begins

I can’t include all of the paperwork, permits, and other German bureaucracy required to open a food stall – let alone restaurant in Berlin – but red tape is a part of everything here. Papers plus concept took nearly two years before Rajesh began selling momos, Himalayan soup, plus other mountain staples at Markthalle Neun.

rajesh lama

That’s where I first met Rajesh and his smile is infectious. The food is great too but the cook and delivery are part of the enjoyment. At that time, Rajesh was hoping to open a Nepali restaurant one day. In August this year, Holy Everest opened at Gleimstrasse 54, in the north part of Berlin.

Hours at Holy Everest are from noon to 11pm on most days, closed on Mondays.

Nepali Infusion

Part of what makes Rajesh happy is seeing other people happy. A reflection of his personal and Buddhist beliefs that are combined with a strong sense of motivation with attention to detail. The mandala in the background of our conversation was hand painted in Nepal, for instance. Holy Everest’s design is open and bright with touches of Nepal true to its roots – just look to the embroidery above or the prayer wheel by the entrance.

holy everest berlin

The staff are also all Nepalese and ingredients sourced from various organic, local Berlin markets. (Including Markthalle Neun.) I can continue to describe some of the dishes on the menu – designed by his wife – like badam sadeko (spicy roasted peanuts with garlic and coriander) which goes well with Nepali beer, of course the momos… or Nepalese spiced chana masala (cooked chickpeas) plus other vegetarian and vegan options.

I could describe more but it wouldn’t capture the experience you have here. I’ve focused on Rajesh’s journey to the first day Holy Everest opened its doors, because that path is infused in every aspect of the dining experience here. Enjoying the food is not enough nor profit an indicator of success. Rajesh, everyone, and everything involved to get a plate of Nepali cuisine in front of you at Holy Everest is meant to put a smile on your face. That is the true meaning of success at this restaurant and there’s nothing artificial about it, you’ll be smiling too after having a meal at Holy Everest.

The Best Travel Memes On The Internet

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2019.

Did I say these travel memes are the best on the Internet? Yes. Did I also create all of these memes? Yes. I may be a bit biased but you can let me know in the comments below. If any of these memes are you, feel free to share and tag me (#foxnomad) too!

drinking beer in airport

hotel lamp usb

water at airport meme

travel advice meme

farting on planes meme

wifi wifox meme

baggage fees meme

travel meme

pug meme

travel memes

airbnb meme

thailand meme

trip meme

hotel meme

airline fees meme

airport meme

economy meme

layover meme

economy meme

traveling meme

Enjoy and don’t forget to tag @foxnomad on Instagram if you share!

Romania’s Bigar Waterfall Is A Remote Pitstop Photoshopers Will Love

bigar waterfall

Sitting along a winding, scenic, and out-of-the-way road cutting through the southwestern corner of Romania is Bigar Waterfall. An impressive sight but not one particularly worth going out of your way for – it’s not really close to any other major attraction. You may have seen the pictures and be asking, wait, doesn’t a glowing waterfall warrant a 3 hour drive from the nearest big city?

I’m sorry to disappoint you. The water isn’t illuminated in colorful hues using natural magic or artificial lights.

bigar waterfall

The main draw of Bigar is most certainly the highly colorized and edited photos of it floating online. I’m not going to link to them here, because this is what it will look like when you arrive. Not to say this isn’t impressive, however, if you were waiting for pulsating H2O radiating an alien blue – these images will gently refine your expectations.

Without a doubt many pictures (as these are) have corrections made to them, although where the spring water meets the stream below does not luminesce. There’s a massive artistic license being taken by photographers and clever tourism promoters so keep this in mind if you’re driving around Timisoara, former best cities Craiova and Targu Jiu, or even Belgrade nearby. The drive is beautiful, sights serene, yet Bigar Waterfall is actually water behind a lovely backdrop of green.

There Are Lots Of Animals In Galapagos But Here’s Photos Of Just Sea Lion Pups

sea lion pup

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth, in fact, 97% of the land animals there can be found nowhere else on the planet. During the week I spent visiting the archipelago as a guest of Andando Tours, I took over 300 photos and more than 12 hours of video footage of blue-footed boobies, lava lizards, giant tortoises – as much wildlife as possible.

There is though, one animal any camera seems unable to avoid, so much so, it became a running joke onboard the Mary Anne: sea lion pups always steal the spotlight. Our guide Fernando Ortiz (whom I can’t recommend enough) confirmed every group is the same – unable to resist the baby sea lions.

To be fair, the sea lion pups often do their best to pose and grab your attention.

sea lion pup galapagos

I’ll be posting more about the Galapagos and its wildlife as a whole soon but these photos are a reflection of what happens as you hop from one island to another. At most stops there are more than a few cute sea lion pups hanging out, and no matter how many you see, you’ll take 40 more pictures of them.

sea lion pup galapagos

The general rule is to stay 2 meters (~6 feet) away from all the animals in the Galapagos where possible. With even an average zoom lens, you’ll be able to capture shots like this.

sea lion pup

Sea lions for the most part behave a lot like dogs, except the adults ignore you, and the pups are cautious but inquisitive.

sea lion galapagos

They…

sleeping sea lion

…also,

sea lion cute

sleep…

sea lion family

a lot.

sea lion pup sleeping

For the most part during the first year of their life, sea lions stay on land not venturing out beyond a few meters into the water. (Nearly always under the attentive eye of an experienced mom.) Otherwise sea lion pups are vulnerable to shark predation; instead they spend much of their time entertaining tourists.

sea lion galapagos

As they grow older and become more independent, adult sea lions will start to spend weeks at sea eating fish. (The book Why We Sleep explains how this is possible – sea lions lightly sleep half their brains at a time in the open ocean.)

Still, when they return to land, they’re adorably tired.

galapagos sea lions

The adults leave the posing to the pups while they take a well-earned rest. Even in this state, sea lions are incredibly photogenic, despite being the occasional snotty sneeze. (The 2 meter rule is more for you than them.) I’ll have more on what travel to the Galapagos Islands is like, showing the incredible animal diversity here in the coming weeks – but as they did during my trip – the sea lion pups have taken over for now.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More


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