10 reasons why everyone should visit Namibia at least once in their life

Africa, Uncategorized

Africa is a big ol’ continent and I’m incredibly lucky to have visited 5 countries within it. As much as I’ve loved each country, Namibia has always held a special place in my heart and I discover new reasons to love it every time I go. As one of the most unheard of and underrated countries, I thought I’d put a little list together to tell you why it’s worth visiting the beauty that is Namibia.

1. People

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Everyone says this about everywhere they go so I’m going to join them and tell ya that the people you meet in Namibia are just so so so lovely. As well as being kind, caring and smart; the friends I have in Namibia are also ridiculously hilarious.

2. Sunrises and sunsets

Get up early (I’m talking like 5am), find a hill or building to climb up and watch the sun rise along the horizon.

Watching the sunset is equally as stunning; the colours change each evening and you’ll feel like you’re in the real life version of The Lion King.

3. Culture

 

Namibia has an estimated population of 2.2 million people, made up of 13 ethnic groups. They are: the Herero, the Damara, the Nama, the San (Bushmen), the Rehoboth Basters, the Coloureds, the Whites, the Caprivian, the Kavango, the Topnaars, the Tswana, the Himba and the Owambo. Visit Opuwo in the north to see how the Himbas use ochre on their skin and hair.

4. Drinks

Windhoek lager and Tafel are brewed in Namibia. Savanna and Amarula are from South Africa but readily available at all times in Namibia. You’ve gotta give them a try.

5. Etosha

Etosha National Park is a game reserve in Northern Namibia and should be on every bucket list. You can expect to see lion, springbok, gemsbok, impala, hyena, giraffe, rhino (black and white), elephant and if you’re lucky; leopard and cheetah.

Instead of following radios and keepers to find the animals, you can self-drive and wait for the wildlife to come to you at a waterhole.

6. Braais

Afrikaans for BBQ, but so much better than a pathetic British attempt at grilling meat outside. Braais don’t take days/weeks of notice and hours of preparation. Just call some friends, bring drinks, meat, make a fire and enjoy.

7. Ghost towns

Vogue photoshoot worthy ghost towns (yass, really), Kolmanskop is worth a visit if you want to fill your insta with artsy pics of abandoned houses and a forgotten town.

8. The landscapes

If you enjoy wide, open spaces then this is the country for you. Namibia is huge (3 times the size of the UK) but with 62 million fewer people living in Namibia than the UK, there are a lot of open spaces. You can drive for hours on end without encountering another person.

From rocks, to bush, the desert – the changing landscape is a major appeal to tourists and photographers from all over the world.

9. Sossusvlei

Who knew a visit to the desert would be so tiring?! Sossusvlei will test your endurance and tolerance to extreme heat. In return, it will reward you with breathtaking (seriously) views, wildlife, a sense of accomplishment and pockets full of sand.

10. Swakopmund

Feel like Mad Max as you speed through the desert to reach the German town. The ideal spot for souvenir shopping, eating fresh seafood, hopping between cute little cafes and getting your adrenaline fix with quad biking and sand boarding tours.

Spot flamingos, climb Dune 7, walk along the jetty, collect shells on the beach and enjoy the cooler weather of the coast.


So there you have it, just a few reasons why I might be addicted to travelling to Namibia.

love, Mary

x

p.s. follow on insta for more wanderlust worthy pics: @girlgotlost_

 

 

Non-tourist tips for living in Paris

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

I spent 8 months in France’s capital city –  the most visited city in Europe. Seeing the City of Light as a ‘local’ instead of a tourist is an important part of settling in and enjoying a new city. Here are some of my tips for when you arrive in Paris; my favourite spots to visit (& drink and dance lol), best steps to take in your first few days and where to avoid like the French plague… I’ve added cickable links to most points to make life a million times easier for you. wooo

Go to at least 3 picnics. They’re awkward at first and organisers can seem totally creepy but I would’ve had ZERO friends if I hadn’t of forced myself to a fair few in my first weeks. Check out Youth Events in Paris for organised picnics, take a thick scarf or blanket, go to Carrefour for screw top wine and snacks. Add people on Facebook afterwards; if you really want to be the glue that holds the group together take photos and tag everyone.

Don’t be surprised if you’re joined by a few rats if you go to Champ de Mars.

Avoid Cafe Oz (internationals galore) and head to Le Perchoir. It’s pricey but pre drink and then share one glass of wine between four of you; super savin’.

visit The Local for english news, jobs and advice from Europe

Go to a metro party if you’re not claustrophobic and don’t mind a few runs from the police

Get a local sim and not just an English sim with the ability to make calls from France. Makes life easier for everyone else

Try out the bars in Bastille but don’t end up here every weekend. Theres more to Paris than Bastille!

Get to know some dance songs as that’s what you’ll be dancing along to in the cheesy europop bars. The French love their electro; I made a short soundcloud playlist to get you started. 

Go to 1979 on a Saturday if you like hip hop and RnB, the DJs are fab

Check out Shakespeare and Company for English books

Grab a few metro maps and download the RATP app. Learn your line and the lines your friends live on, work out how far it is to walk to certain places. Find out what time the first and last trains to where you live are to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the night. Learn the night bus route and don’t be afraid to just get it! I avoided countless pricey taxis because I just faced up to the ‘night bus fear’ straight away.

Buy at least one jar of Speculoos and thank me later.

Like the Seventy Fifth Facebook page and follow the blog to keep up to date with the cool shizz happening about town (it’s for english speakers, yay)

Accept the price and inconvience of location and visit the Foundation Louis Vuitton

Head to Couchsurfing parties for pool, beer pong and sumo fights

Wander round a flea market on a Sunday but don’t expect to find anything too exciting. They’re a bit overrated in my opinion but theres a nice atmosphere if you’re into that

Go for a walk down canal St Martin in the day and return in the evening

Square du Vert-Galante by Pont Neuf for picnics

Download Tinder to meet some weirdos. Dating in the ‘city of love’ is as actually about as unromantic as it gets so you might as well admit defeat and get some free meals & bizarre conversations out of it.

Go to Place de Republique on a Sunday and join a demonstration if you want to express your opinion

Go to the Kilo Store in Le Marais, don’t expect any bargains but have a browse

Marks and Spencer’s is pretty much cheap here so cheer yourself up with Percy pigs

Visit Galeries La Fayette to appreciate the ceiling and then head to the roof for a pretty cool view

Buy your homeware from Tati and feel like you’re floating in a Poundland-crossed-with-Wilkinson-cheapo heaven

Don’t upset any homeless people. You might not live to tell the tale (I have huge amounts of compassion for homeless people and their living situations but remember wine is cheaper than water in Paris. Be careful gals)

Get to know when your local post office is and expect to spend a long time in there as everyone is so slow!

Bear in mind that McDonalds have different stuff on the menu. The chips are never salty enough.

If you need anything for a Sunday either be prepared and get it on Saturday, go early Sunday morning or head to the Jewish area.

Go for a run, walk or picnic in Parc Buttes Chaumont, it’s real pretty.

Vending machines aren’t all that reliable.

Stand up on the metro if it’s busy and you’re on a foldable seat.

Go to Le Comptoir General; it’s an amazing place the bar tenders know how to make the strongest drinks.

If you’re stuck in an uncompromising situation there are 31 street condom vending machines in Paris. You’re welcome.

AAAAAAnd that’s all. There’s no reason to ever be bored in Paris; the gender based harassment and general cringe-ness of the lovey dovey couples walking too slowly down the street might get you down but there’s definitely worse places to live in.

Oh and drink all the peach wine.

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Mary x

Thoughts whilst in Madrid

Europe

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Thank God I’m not comfortable with wasting my life away in the same place (I joke I joke. nothing wrong with staying put somewhere but I’m grateful I can wiggle out of my comfort zone once in a while). Going to Madrid was a bit of a gamble but worth taking as I had an unforgettable experience even though I went it alone. It was over a month ago and I’m annoyed with myself at not posting sooner but hey WHAT YA GUNA DO ABOUT IT.

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I’d never been to Spain’s capital before and chose to go after my quick visit to Murcia because people (on the internet) favoured it over tourist-heavy Barcelona. I took a €15 coach and arrived to blue skies on Sunday 22nd February. I had almost given up hope of Couchsurfing and was looking into hostels because everyone I’d sent requests to was either out of town or lived too far out of town. Finally I got a notification telling me I’d been accepted by Alfredo, an IT consultant living in Villeverde Bajo, in the south of the city. Result. 

Before I went to Alfredo’s I planned to explore the south of the city. I found a train station with luggage lockers, left my rucksack there and went on my way. I walked for a few hours until I looked at my whatsapp (Alfredo had let me know he was home) and my watch and realised it was time to get going. Obviously, being the ditz that I am, I hadn’t noted down where I’d left my bag. And had very little knowledge of Madrid’s main stations. Luckily I retraced my steps and managed to find the right station after a few attempts and a wasted hour or two. This basically sums up my attitude/luck when travelling. I’m unorganised and usually daydreaming but everything’s always fine in the end.

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Yeah yeah, I say this every time I go anywhere (apart from Frankfurt, I severely dislike Frankfurt), but I had an incredible time in Madrid. The days were cloudy but my eyes were feasted to charming buildings and the nights were all about the beer, tapas, gorgeous music, people and laughter.

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The trip was a while ago now but I’m still going to share some things I thought of while there. Can’t wait to look back on this list when I’m 90 and think how ridiculously unorganised and naive I was.

Thoughts during my first visit to Madrid;

1- What is this Ale-Hop shop and why doesn’t it exist everywhere and why don’t I own all of these cheap ‘accessories, gifts and décor’ items!?

2- Why don’t I own a motorbike or have a boyfriend with a motorbike *changes Tinder description ‘motorbike owners only plz*. (My CS hosts car was in for an MOT so we just went cruising round the city on his motorbike. He said he could tell I was an experienced passenger ((lol I aint)) and new I was an adrenaline junkie so thought he’d go faster than he normally would with passengers. The wind was crazy and the roads were hectic at times but it was up there with one of the best things I’ve ever done. We went through cobbled streets, past cathedrals, huge government buildings and a bloomin palace! You don’t experience moments like that, for free, if you stay in a hotel.)

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3- Why don’t I live in Madrid, this place seems to have the best of everything

4- Zaras here are prettier than most churches (is that blasphemy?)IMG_1577

5- Every girl here looks so fab and glamorous, why am I not you?

6- seriously, how do girls here look so effortlessly stunning

7- guys are even more beautiful.

8 – there must be something in the water. give me all the water

9- aw guys are so friendly here. I’ve just been called beautiful 3 times in the past hour.

10- oh no, quite a few are major creeps. Stares all round

11- I wonder why it’s totally acceptable to scream  ‘MAMA’ down the road. full on screaming.

12- why is this deep friend fish stick I’m eating and how unhealthy is it?

13- why am I standing up at the restaurant. Where are all the chairs?!

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14- couchsurfing parties are expected to be totally lame and awkward, lets not get our hopes up

15- oh no, this couchsurfing party is promising. We’ve come to a lively club, free drinks all round and a fun group

16- eurgh, this german couple we’re hanging out with are way too wannabe quirky for my liking. Put down your pikachu rucksack and stop dancing like you’re in a cheesy 50’s movie.

17- roof bars are my new favourite thing! Not new favourite, they’ve always been up there in the top 5 but this place is amazing. I’ve watched the sun set and eaten 3 different types of pizza; life doesn’t get much better

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18- should we go to this kizomba party? sounds like it could be cool, something different. *watches video of instructor on YouTube* yeah sorry, we’re not coming. nope.

19- why is this woman in a flamenco dress lip syncing and aggressively dancing towards me?

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20- wearing sunglasses and a coat together isn’t just acceptable, it’s expected.

21- the little dogs are even cuter than ones in Paris, plus there’s a lot less poop lying around the streets

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22- the only way to describe this palace and gardens is ‘freakin majestic’

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23- there seems to be news reporters, police and ambulances everywhere. Non-stop dramaIMG_5554

24- I may have found my favourite place to run. River, hills, views and pretty flowers. a 12 mile run seemed to fly by without me realising

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25- whats that loud noise and rumbling feeling. *gets back to hosts house 10 minutes later* ‘did you feel the earthquake?! It’s on the news!’

26-  the wind is so strong I genuienly think theres a hurricane happening too

27- I am surrounded by the worst dressed Disney characters I’ve ever seen. Why do they keep taking their heads off and why are they here. THIS IS NOT DISNEY LAND

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28- I’m an unstoppable, bad ass, confident, solo traveller. I don’t need no one. Look at me totally sussing this all out on my own. I’m a total boss

29- oh no wait, I’m lost

30- found my way again. Its 11pm, I’m in a foreign country, I don’t speak the language, I’m tired, hungry and pretty poor but I’ve still managed to navigate my way to this random house on the outskirts of Madrid without internet or the full address. I’m allowed to be proud of myself

31- why is my couchsurfing host the friendliest person in the whole world *feeling lucky and content* & I have my own room, bathroom and roof terrace!

32- these ruins are pretty darn cool. I feel like I’m in a Will Smith movieIMG_1699

33- I don’t need any clothes. Must stop shopping

34- just a few pieces can’t hurt; theres a sale on so it doesn’t really count

35- I can’t fit half of my stuff in my tiny bag and I need to leave for the airport asap rocky

36- lets wear ALL MY CLOTHES. So many layers that I can barely get my oversized coat on

37- airport food is the most overpriced poop. I’m so done with this. I’ve spent all my money and have no souvenirs. But I want a sandwich.

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I arrived back home in Paris with 2 euros to my name but some of the best memories and friends for life. Spain was gorgeous and Madrid was the perfect remedy to any problem I’d experienced in the previous few weeks. So much love and gratitude to anyone I met, stayed with or chatted to over a very reasonably priced beer. Until next time.

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Adios

Maz, beso

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happy Thursday xoxo

Maz