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Spending the Day in the Virginia Beach Sand and Sun

Fortunately all the rooms at the Belvedere were ocean-facing. Not only for the view of the beach and ocean but the sunrise.

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Arriving at the Belvedere Beach Resort Club in Virginia Beach

With the summer slowly coming to a close, the ladies and I finally made our near annual trip to the beach. This year we chose Virginia Beach and decided to make it more than just a day trip. Initially we were going to pick a cheap(er) hotel further inland, perhaps a Holiday Inn or something. But the thought of having to trek it back and forth from the beach, pay for parking, riding back to the hotel with sand in our butts — we picked a place on the beach.

We left early in the day, before the afternoon rush hour, thinking we would make good time. Somehow, thousands of people thought the same thing and after crawling with traffic our of the extended DC area, we finally made it to Virginia Beach after the sun set.

Najwa, thinking the beach was around the corner, was harassing us, tripping about the sun going down, not leaving us enough time to play on the beach. As the the sky started to darken at dusk, she even told us to turn around because we were taking too long.


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Bosphorus Boat Tour

Bosphorus Boat Tour Meetup

After waiting a little longer than I would’ve preferred, we were finally on our way to the boat for the Bosphorus Boat Tour. As a mob, we started walking. And walking. And kept walking. And walking so much that Najwa insisted on being carried. So I picked her up [somehow lost sight of Nduku in the mob], but kept walking. And walking.

Apparently Hagia Sophia isn’t quite right on the water.

Eventually we made it [and found Nduku]. And how thankful I was that most of it was downhill. Then it become a mosh pit on the little dock we were standing on waiting for the boat to pull up. Surely there were people eager for the tour, but it was getting later in the day, meaning the temperature was falling, so I’m sure many people just wanted to defrost. Nduku being one of them.

Bosphorus Boat Tour

Fortunately, as the boat was pulling up, obviously not big enough for all of us, there was a call for English speakers since the boat was giving the tour in English.

 

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We finally got underway, but many others were still waiting for the next boat.

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Visit to the Blue Mosque

The main attraction in Turkey is the Hagia Sophia. For me at least. When we finally made our way around the corner to visit the historic site, well, about a hundred or two other people beat us to it. It wasn’t so much that the line was so long — and it was hella long — but it was freezing cold and standing still wasn’t going to help.

So, we meandered across the way and greeting us was an even more impressive, albeit less historic, site — The Blue Mosque. Magnificent [and I don’t usually use that word].

Blue Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey

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Differences Between American and Kenyan Dairy Products and Road Rules

Just a quick note about the differences in our dairy section and Kenyan’s dairy products. See, we have a section of the stores just for dairy, 99.9 percent of the time it’s refrigerated. In Kenya, though, however they produce their dairy products, no refrigeration needed.

I actually find this a bit disturbing, but the eggs were a bit tastier than ours and the butter never melts. Go figure. more…

Who Knew That Kenya Had Such a Funky Jazz Scene!?

Whenever I travel, I’m drawn to the most out of the way adventure I can find. Visiting the sites seen on postcards is cool, I guess, but I like being surrounded by the local, in the locals’ environment, feel how they live everyday with or without the gawkers like me taking their picture.

Nduku, though, I guess wanted to make sure I see the other part of Kenya. The other side of Nairobi. I’ve seen the extreme poverty, drove through Kibera, counted more orphanages than car dealerships, traveled the dirt roads to nowhere, and so forth.

So, we headed out to the other side, to meet up with her friend [the epitome of an adventurist actually; I envy her travels] Vanya at a place called Slims. more…

Day Trip to Lake Naivasha

If it were up to me, I would’ve stayed in Kitui for several days. Though one of the more remote places we visited, not much to to other than Nzambani Stone which I’ll probably not want to climb again, I like Kitui. It’s about as authentic as you can get when visiting Kenya where most people saunter out into the game reserves or lounge on the beaches of the coast.

But, Nduku’s family was intent on heading out to the Great Rift Valley, a quick day trip on the other side of the country. I was hoping to see the great migration, but maybe another time.

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Wandering Around Kitui On My Own, Learning New Survival Skills on Accident to Prevent an Accident

 

While the rest of the family went back to Nairobi, I wanted to spend another night in Kitui. Since it was Christmas and there wasn’t any room at the grandparent’s house, I spent the night in Kitui Town at a hotel called Talents Guesthouse.

At first I was apprehensive. Downtown Kitui is not like downtown Washington, DC. Or Nairobi for that matter. But to my surprise, the hotel was actually quite clean, mosquito free and really quiet. Just a block away it was one huge party, people, mostly teens and young adults, all over the place, music blasting, people everywhere. One street over and it was quiet. I would’ve ventured out there, but I was worn out from being stared at all day already.

Though the hotel was nice, it had it’s peculiarities. When I noticed the complimentary flip flops, looking like a hundred people had already worn them, I passed on them. The bathroom was interesting too. It was a shower, with the standard wires wrapped around the shower head and running down the wall. The wires connect to something that heats the water, which requires a wall switch to turn on. All I kept thinking about was how electricity and water usually don’t mix. more…

Four Generations of Malombes, Comparing Photos from Then and Now

You know, when you blog about traveling, you do what you can to make it worth reading for anyone who, well, reads the blog. But when you’re traveling to visit family, there’s those inevitable photos of family that you really can’t make people appreciate the same way as those in the photos.

Yet, I post these photos anyway, mostly for posterity, and because one day Najwa and her cousins will be able to look at these photos and laugh at how small, how young and how silly they were. Speaking of photos, the lady dug up some old photos from way back in the day of her people. more…

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Getting Around Athi River Traffic on Mombasa Highway on the Way to Kitui

Traffic.

Wherever you go, you can’t avoid it. It’s a phenomenon that when you get on the highway, everyone else gets on at exactly the same time! And when the highway you’re traveling is one lane each direction; you have to share with massive trucks, hundreds of cars and matatus; and it’s Christmas — you best be prepared for anything.

We finally started our journey to Kitui for Christmas. It started off easy enough. Nothing like driving back from the coast [still the worst traffic ever]. We’re rolling, and the sign hung on the walkway over Mombasa Highway just as you get to Athi River should’ve been an omen.

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Within minutes, there’s a line of cars, none moving, stretching into the horizon. No movement moving forward and no cars coming in the opposite direction. Nothing. Everyone’s confused. Traffic can be bad in Kenya, especially Mombasa Highway, but not like this. This was a bad sign considering we just got on the road and could see cars literally to the end of the earth.

As we sat there, I knew it was just a matter of time before Kenyans did what Kenyans do when stuck in traffic. And any Kenyan reading this knows exactly what happens next.

It started with one person, running out of patience and making a break for it.

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Then the fun began… more…