Post-Quarantine List

While there are a number of reasons to stay positive within the current lock down situation, there are many reasons to await its end.

Also, different life circumstances mean whilst some can use this time wholesomely, others are being crushed by it.

In order to keep hope alive I started working on a to-do list. This list contains a few activities I look forward to once we are all set free.

The thing about being on lock down is I suddenly want to do things like take photography lessons, which I have never really been interested in. It is giving new dreams and hopes, big and small!

  1. Hug my family tight when I first see them again.
  2. Re-learn how to drive funny story, I learnt to drive 11 years ago and then forgot how to….
  3. Perfect my swimming skills
  4. Take photography classes
  5. Have a picnic
  6. Continue Salsa classes
  7. And of course, TRAVEL! Thinking maybe North Macedonia or Portugal 🤔✈️💭

So that is my abridged list, what are you dreaming of doing once movement and social gatherings are back to normal?

How to travel when you can’t travel

Sometimes life throws curveballs which mean travelling is not possible. So how can you feel the excitement of planning for a new trip, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and learning new words in a foreign language without actually going anywhere? Well, here are few ways I travel when I actually can’t:

1. Pinterest: I don’t know about you but Pinterest is my ultimate go-to for dreaming about what could be if…let’s say when, everything falls into place. Pinterest is essentially an online vision board. I gather pictures of my hopes and dreams on there. I have a board on Pinterest which is plastered with hundreds of pictures of travel places and I can spend quite a bit of time just going through them and telling myself that one day I won’t be looking at a picture of a beautiful place but be at THE place itself, experiencing it. And indeed I have been to many places that were just a picture on my Pinterest board.

2. Travel shows and books: Similar to Pinterest, travel shows on Netflix or travel books inspire me and give me ideas of places to go and things to do when I get there. One of my current favourite travel shows is on BBC and it is called “Race across the World”. A number of pairs of people are given the same amount of money it would cost them to get to a far flung destination by flight but can only go by land or sea. It is EPIC. This is the second season where they basically go across the Americas with less than $2000. Travelling by land or sea obviously takes longer and means you experience many things you miss when you fly over countries. I also enjoy reading travel publications, not so much the guides though. For instance, a current read is Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2020”.

3. Authentic Restaurants: Going out to eat or ordering food, once in a while, from restaurants that serve dishes from around the would also shrinks space between countries. You get to enjoy delicious dishes from across the world without having to travel across the world. Now the task here is trying to find real authentic representations as opposed to watered down variants.

4. Connecting with People: Most people have a variety of friends from different parts of the world or different parts of a country. Speaking to them and hearing their stories is a great way to see the world. Essentially, when you connect with someone from somewhere different, you are seeing through their eyes. If you’re lucky and the person is a particularly good storyteller, you can even taste the foods they talk about and smell the scents that accompany it and hear the sounds. The traveller at heart loves stories. Travel is full of many opportunities for stories and people tell stories. So connect with people and they give you wings to see the world. And these days, speaking to a friend in a different country may mean they actually show you around through a video call!

5. Reminisce: If you are on this blog, chances are you’ve been travelling before. Why not go through old photos of recent trips or trips that are actually beginning to fade from your memory. Remembering past travels sparks memories of the experiences you had and is a great way to relive a journey.

5 Things to do in Madrid, Spain in a Day!

1. Have some churros at Chocoletaria San Gines. It’s an institution. And has been selling delicious churros for centuries. They give you a cup of warm thick chocolate to dip your churros in.

Look at that chocolate….

2. Go to the Prado Museum. I have a love hate relationship with most European museums I have been to, especially the arty ones. This is because people of colour are either completely erased or are more often than not depicted in positions of servitude. Nevertheless, the Prado is one of my fave museums and it houses the very famous Bosch triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

3. Visit Malasana if you like quirky, indie spaces. Also, there are quite a few vintage shops around the area.

4. Stroll down Gran Via, which is the equivalent of London’s Oxford Street or Paris’ Champ d’elysee. It’s a long blingy street full of shops. You can get some delicious ice cream along the way at Borgonesse which serves absolutely delicious ice cream!

5. Go to El Retiro Park for a run, a picnic or just a leisurely wander. It is a huge park offering a respite from city life.

What Traveling Taught me About Race

Stereotypes are still prevalent

There are archaic stereotypes attached to being Black that are still unashamedly thriving in parts of the world. Living in a country like the UK, where racism is more subtle, can easily numb one to the fact that there are places where people still hold obscenely derogatory beliefs about Black people and are guided, in their relations with Black people, by this misunderstanding. In other words, you might experience blatant racism when traveling. The bulk of this travel-related racism is pure ignorance and a lack of understanding on what not to say to or ask a Black person due to the fact that these people have little or no day-to-day interactions with Black people or may have never met one before. Some are down to lazy inane thinking, where people believe that what they see in the media and entertainment, as a representation of Black people, is actually true of ALL Black people, while a few will be conscious malignant discrimination. In my experience of traveling, I have only experienced the latter once

 

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Madrid, Spain

People are able to dismantle stereotypes

Though stereotypes exist as mentioned previously, people are capable of overlooking surface level differences between themselves and the Black traveler. Travel has the power to restore your faith in humanity. The joys of travel outweigh the negatives and not even racial differences have caused any issues which have made me second guess my love for travel. This is because I have never received really bad treatment due to race whilst traveling. As said earlier, I have only experienced blatant racism once, so far, as a traveler. I have mostly found that people from different cultures and backgrounds, who look nothing like me or who have never met someone like me have been very welcoming and open. I have been housed and fed by strangers, befriended by people with whom I had no language in common, involved in deep conversations with strangers in strange places and invited to family dinners where I stuck out due to the hue of my skin. Travel truly does show that in the end, we are all commonly human.

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Cappadocia, Turkey

Being Colorblind is NOT ideal

Great discussions have been borne from my Blackness/African culture. We all know those moments when someone tries to skirt around the obvious fact that you are Black and it becomes this awkward elephant in the room. I prefer our differences to be celebrated not buried or worse, white-washed. We are who we are and the colour of our skin brings stories, cultures, traditions and rich histories. All these are the basis for great midnight conversations in foreign countries surrounded by the unfamiliar but feeling weirdly at home because you are given a platform to be you and discuss being you. Often, in countries where Black people are a minority, people are very open to hearing about you and your life and this sheer curiosity has made discussing race less tense. It is not my job to educate others on race and Blackness, there are plenty of books for this. But having an open dialogue where we bond over the similarities and differences in our culture can be fruitful for both parties.

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Cappadocia, Turkey

Money > Race

To put it crassly, no one cares about the colour of your skin as long as your wallet has hard currency. People will bend over backward, in most circumstances, to get a hand on that cash of yours and do all the boot licking necessary. I am not unaware of the fact that being a Black tourist might prove to be very different from being a Black immigrant. A Black tourist is often seen as a walking ATM machine as are all other races of tourists, on the other hand, a Black immigrant is usually seen very differently. A Black immigrant is often seen as a taker, someone who comes to take things away from the host community such as jobs or housing. A Black tourist, on the other hand, is usually seen more as a giver, as they are often purely consumers with no request/need for social benefits such as housing or jobs hence they are not “competing” with the locals.

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Bexley, England

You’ll Always Discover Similarities

No matter how different you think you are from the people in a country you travel to, you will find that you have common ground and usually more than you may have expected. I am always amazed at how at home I feel in some countries, such as parts of Italy. Usually, values such as respect and community are found in these collectivist societies which immediately transport me back to Nigeria. Travel throws a lot of uncertainty and unfamiliarity at the traveler but you will also find cases of familiarity which offer comfort and a serving of home.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Being Black doesn’t obstruct travel though it gives the experience a certain hue. In my experiences, openness is more common than discrimination – as curious as the traveler is, so is the host, both parties are inquisitive and usually both open.

I dare say if you want to escape subtle or more blatant discrimination due to race in your home country, become a traveler.

*Please note that all the above relate mostly to my experience of being a Black traveler as opposed to a Black immigrant.

Back from Sabbatical 😁

Beside, The Astronaut, one of Berlin’s most famous street art

I am back!

It is weird to see how time flies by looking at the last time I posted on my beloved blog, africanwildflower – BUT..I am back now and have blown the dust off this collection of travel experiences.

Since my last post about Hungary, I have been to 10 new countries which I can’t wait to tell you about. In addition, I now have a goal to hit 30 countries by 30, which was inspired by a colleague who aimed, and succeeded, at reaching 25 countries by the age of 25!

Here’s to keeping the africanwildlflower fire burning!

Budapest, Hungary – The City of Baths

Budapest is definitely the most unlikely city I have visited so far. By unlikely, I mean it was never on my “top ten” list of places to go and it seems not to be on the list of many people as my sister’s exclamation of “what are you doing in Budapest??”when I sent pictures to my siblings whatsapp group, shows.

The Danube

In short, Budapest was not planned. My friend and I had some other destination we wanted to visit, but the cost of accommodation and flights put us off. Just when we were about to pause on travelling at all, Budapest happened.

Heroes Square (Hosok Tere)

Kossuth Lajos ter


We were in Budapest in the middle of June – the heat was debilitating. However, thanks to the many baths and spas that Budapest is famous for – cooling off was never far away.

The first thing that struck me about Budapest was how manageable the crowd was. For a capital city, it didn’t feel as overwhelming as London but still managed to feel exciting. The people were also very polite, from strangers on the road to hotel staff.

Budapest isn’t the cheapest city I have been to but it is definitely not expensive either. It took me a while to get used to the conversion rate, for some reason, and truly understand the value of things but I can say it was a moderately affordable city. For me, Bogota, is the cheapest city I’ve been to where I would go on a 45mins Uber ride and pay less than £10!

Baths

Gellerts


We had the opportunity to visit 2 thermal baths whilst in Budapest – Gellerts and Szechenyi. Gellerts bath is elegant whilst Szechenyi is hip. Szechenyi was full of young people in their early twenties whilst Gellerts was more family friendly. Szechenyi was bigger and had glum, wet changing stalls that seemed to go on forever, my friend likened it them to prison cells and I don’t disagree, Gellerts, on the other hand is smaller and it’s changing stalls bore little similarities to a penitentiary. I won’t suggest one over the other as they were both fun and relaxing just with different vibes. Szechenyi’ yellow buldings is especially picturesque.
Jewish District

Budapest’s Jewish district is the soul of the city and you immediately feel a shift in vibe when you get there. The second biggest synagogue in the world, and the largest in Europe, is located here and so are several boutique restaurants and street art. Where the street art is, is usually where the most passion in a city lies – at least this is what I believe.

Cuisine

In relation to cuisine, I will say as a legit foodie, who has eaten food from different cultures, that the Hungarian delicacies did not disappoint. My favourite was this pancake stuffed with chicken soaked in a paprika stew. Typical of how I relate to international foods, I do not remember the name but I hope the description is crisp enough to help you find it if you ever go to Hungary. Goulash was also a staple in most restaurants we went to and is definitely something to eat in Hungary.

I can recommend 3 restaurants in order of amazingness which must not be missed if you’re in Budapest:

Bobyglar – this restaurant fell into our laps as we wondered away from Hosok Tere, a square with statues of important figures in Hungary’s history. It’s similar in structure, and its location centrally at a big crossroads, to Trafalgar Square in London. Of course, it was nowhere near as chaotic as Trafalgar Square but it was still beautiful and full of history.

Anyways, we wandered away from this monument and staggered hungrily into the hobbit-home-looking building to find a nicely furnished restaurant which had an outside seating area that we immediately settled into. The staff were top-notch and I will give not just the delicious food 5 stars, but also the service we received.

Cafe New York – Tagged the most beautiful cafe in the world, this is an absolute must-visit. I have never been to a restaurant that opulent and extravagant, let alone a cafe that exquisite. You might actually be intimidated by the setting and assume your pocket won’t survive the visit. For a place as beautiful as a palace, the Cafe is unbelievably affordable. It’s also a great place for taking unrivalled photos.

Mazel Tov – Tucked in the Jewish district is this Israeli restaurant which has sections outdoors whilst their indoor area is covered with clear canopies. It is teeming with greenery so that even when you are inside, you feel like you are outside. The food was was delightful – I had a sharwama that tasted authentic, fresh and delicious. To make the already charming atmosphere more special, there was live music by this guy with a guitar who sang heart-wrenching love songs all night.

Budapest is a truly beautiful city! The wide streets, yellow trams, Jewish district and Moorish architecture made Budapest feel idyllic and like a cross breed between Portugal, San Francisco and Tel Aviv (none of which I’ve been to, but Pinterest pictures tell you a lot).

Budapest is not very diverse, in the sense that non-White people are a rarity, so my friend and I were stared at quite a bit, but we have become used to this as we often find ourselves in situations where we stand out. If you’ve travelled through most countries in Europe as a Black person, you won’t find the stares in Budapest shocking. In fact, the stares were milder than I have experienced in other countries such as in areas of Greece or the South of Italy were I almost stopped traffic.
Budapest was an unexpected trip that has now become an unforgettable experience.

Venice, through the eyes of a Zimgirl

Hello All, 

This post, about the beautiful Venice, is a piece by my friend and fellow travel blogger, Goitsimang Makanda! You can find her witty blog on WordPress here. I am sure you’ll enjoy this post and it’s colourful pictures as much as I did!

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Venice is one of those cities that I’ve spent years drooling over the pictures and reading travel blogs about. Its waterways and bridges have long been plastered on my Pinterest boards. I just had to see it in person and my 27th birthday presented the perfect opportunity for a cultured weekend break.
Venice is a marvel of engineering, perfectly situated across a group of 118 small islands, separated by canals and linked together by bridges. This city of water is nothing short of a dream land.


I arrived at midnight and even under moonlight, you could still appreciate Venice’s untampered beauty. I stepped off the ferry and was confronted by the breath-taking beauty and romance of the city. Under the moonlight, the buildings were gleaming, standing tall in their ornate grandeur. It felt like I’d stepped back in time. The city is oozing with character and authenticity. There is no pretentiousness. I completely fell in love and our walk through the narrow lanes to our hotel filled me with so much excitement. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise so I could see the city in its full glory.

I booked to spend 3 full days in Venice. The spontaneity in the way the trip was planned meant that I didn’t know what exactly I was going to do or see till I got there. Luckily, the owner of the gorgeous guest house I stayed in was more than happy to drop her pearls of wisdom about all things fabulous in Venice. This invaluable local insight, in conjunction with the help of the Get Your Guide app helped us make the most of our time there.

So, instead of boring you with how we woke up every morning and had breakfast on a terrace overlooking Venice’s tiled roofs and gorgeous canals, I thought I’d just give you a breakdown of the highlights. 

1. The three-island tour.

I usually HATE organised tours. It’s that feeling of being a herded sheep I cannot stand. But this one was so worth it due to the limited time we had.We used the Get Your Guide app to book the tour and it was perfect. All the tour company did was to drop us off at the location and then they told us what time to come back, so we were free to wander, marvel and explore. 

First, we visited the Murano Island where famous Murano Glass makers can be found. There we had the opportunity to watch a glassblower practice his craft, followed by a tour of the workshop gallery, showcasing breathtaking glass items made by the Master Glass Blowers. It’s amazing what you can do with glass, from the fluorescent coloured chandeliers to the grand floral mirrors, each petal and leaf painstakingly crafted in glass.

Next, we went to the island of my dreams. Burano. Imagine a rainbow just exploded and covered all the houses in bright happy colours. That’s Burano! The houses on this island are an eclectic mix of broad and vibrant colours. Every single house was the backdrop for a stunning picture. 

The last island was Torcello, which had some of the coolest bridges I’d seen in my time in the region. Torcello also had historical churches which are well preserved and I enjoyed the best fast food I’ve ever had there! 


2. The Libreria Acqua Alta

As an avid reader and lover of bookshops and libraries, I couldn’t leave Venice without visiting the Acqua Alta library. It was everything and more. The eclectic mixture of books was a reader’s dream. What makes the bookshop so unique and special is the presentation of the books. In the centre of the store, you find a gondola packed with books and as you walk about the store you will also find bathtubs filled with books. My favourite pastime is sitting in the bath with a good book. I have so many water-stained books at home so seeing this literature filled baths made my heart smile. 


3. The Gondola

“You can’t go to Venice without going for a Gondola ride” – That’s what everyone back home was saying to me when I told them I was in Venice. Personally, I didn’t see what the hype was about, it’s an overpriced ride on a long boat seeing the exact same sights I can appreciate by foot. But anyway, peer pressure got the best of me and I gave in. We found an experience deal on the Get Your Guide app for €27. 

I’m glad I had the experience. It was the perfect goodbye to this incredible city. Everything looked so different when gazing from the water. It was very peaceful and serene as we floated through the canals. The views were spectacular, including our hunky gondola driver (I’m sure that’s not what they are called?)! What they say about Italian men is true! Phwoaaarr!!!


 4. Getting Lost in Paradise

The super cool thing about Venice is that it’s a pedestrian-friendly city. There are so many picturesque and narrow alley ways and bridges connecting different parts of the city that it’s easy to get lost exploring. In almost every square you find something new. A cluster of unique shops or cafes, or my favourite, old grand buildings and churches with the most amazing doors. I loved wandering into the residential areas, seeing the clothes hanging up high and seeing native Venetians go about their day. They must feel like fish in a bowl. Tourist eyes peering into their private courtyards with vulgar curiosity. I’d have loved an opportunity to go into one of their homes. 

Now, before you start thinking we are uncultured – we of course also visited St Mark Square. How could we not? 

It was as incredible as the guide books said it was. 

I easily can rave about the beauty of Venice all day long but I must highlight at least one thing that annoyed me: Venice is EXPENSIVE!!! Getting food, particularly in the more central parts, is costly. Every restaurant seems to have an obligatory 12% service charge (but I must say the service is top notch, everywhere I went I felt welcomed and the waiters were consistently attentive) and an extra charge, ‘Coperto’, which is basically a charge for you sitting down. The mistake we made was going to eat in St Mark’s Square, as its more central, it’s pricier. I suggest eating at around lunch time as the lunch menus are cheaper. On a positive note, the food was incredible, I can still taste the mouth-watering carbonara I had on my first day. And the Bellini!!! OMG, that was incredible.

Oooooh and the freaking pigeons. OMG! Now everyone who knows me knows I have a profound phobia of winged creatures. The St Mark’s Square area is infested with the flying rats and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw people having them perch on them as they posed for pictures! One particularly distressful episode was when I was happily enjoying my Lasagne on one of the terraces and the woman on the adjacent table decided it was a good idea to start feeding her bread to the already obese pigeons. They were flapping all around my legs and almost gave me a heart attack. So, if you’re like me and you hate pigeons then avoid eating around St Mark’s Square.
 Other than those minor annoyances, Venice is spectacular and I highly recommend you go. 

Bogota, Colombia Part 2 – Graffiti 

Regardless of the fact that my stay in Bogota was quite short, I knew there were 2 things I had to do no matter what. The first was to go on the food tour by La Mesa, which I talk about in my previous post. The other was to go on the Bogota Graffiti Tour.

This was probably the highlight of my time in Bogota, which is shocking as I love my food! But I love street art and the stories they tell and how they define and redefine space. Bogota is full of beautiful street art from some of the world’s biggest street artists and I only saw a tip of the iceberg during my 3 hour tour. I must say that the Bogota Graffiti Tour are an amazing organisation and our tour guide was fantastic and very knowledgeable. The tour is free but tips are expected and encouraged! I bet you, after your tour you will be emptying your pockets and begging your tour guide to take all your money. It’s that great!

Little words are needed for this post as the pictures speak for themselves! It is so beautiful how the murals have molded themselves within their context, they look like they were always there and grew into the streets organically.

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Abuja, Nigeria – Nigeria’s Northern Star

When I think back to my time in Abuja, what comes to mind first are the long shadowy boulevards we drove down during our time there. Abuja is a stunning, comparatively calming state in sharp contrast to Lagos. Lagos and Abuja are like the stereotypical siblings, one is lively and boisterous the other melancholic and easy going. 

Abuja is only a 45 minute flight from Lagos and costs an average of 40,000 Naira ( circa £80)for a return ticket.

Millenium park – rock photo bombs majestically


Abuja is rocky, hot (most times) and sparsely populated. It really is a breath of fresh air from chaotic Lagos. It’s always nice getting out of the city and experiencing more of natural beauty. In Abuja, nature is closer though it’s a political hub and the capital state of Nigeria. 

Asides the memorable boulevards, Nkoyo, an authentic restaurant we visited was another highlight. The restaurant was beautiful and served delicious food. The staff were also very helpful and polite.

Inside Nkoyo

Edikaikong and pounded yam

Jollof and Fried rice with some fish


To get those souvenirs that prove your travel but also, and more importantly, to experience a bit of Nigerian artistry, it is a must that you visit the Arts and Culture Village in Abuja. We spent ages just strolling though the mini huts and watching artists at work. To be honest, many times we escaped into cool shady huts just to escape the unforgiving heat and sun pummelling us. 

The Arts and Crafts Village



Artist at work

Cassava Republic


At the Crafts village, there was a tiny bookshop called Cassava Republic selling an array of books centerimg round Africa and Africans and I was in heaven! My little niece and her friend were also quite pleased with the children’s books available. Cassava Republic is also a publishing house, all the books in the shop were published by them.

For many Nigerians, Zuma rock is the image that represents Abuja. The rock also features on the nations 100 Naira note. Surprisingly, I found out that Zuma rock isn’t actually in Abuja but in the neighbouring colossal Niger State. The rock is just outside the North of Abuja in Niger. For some reason though, Abuja has claimed the rock as its pride and joy.

Almost better than getting to the rock was seeing it in the horizon as we drove towards it. It’s a huge charismatic monolith which definitely leaves more of an impression than any of the other rocks I saw that decorates Abuja (perhaps why Abuja doesn’t make corrections when people suppose it’s actually situated within its territory…). As many things of grandeur in Nigeria, the rock has its own superstitious stories attached to it and hearing them as we approached the rock almost made me turn back – but I found my courage.

Zuma rock approaches

Gateway to the North East


Zuma Rock

My first voyage to the North of Nigeria was incredible. It reminded me, once again of how vast this nation is and the variety of beauty on offer.

Millenium Park

Nigeria in Foods

This humble post is in praise of Nigerian foods in all its colour, variety and tastes. 

Now, this post only grazes the surface of the plethora of foods in the country, and this list is quite biased as it only shows foods from a small part of the country. Either way, enjoy the optical gorgeousness and I hope one day, if you haven’t already, you get to taste the gloriousness. 

My favourite is the ewa goin, the last picture, which is specially made beans with a grainy stew. Perfect with the popular Agege bread for breakfast 😋

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Various stews and meats


Eba, pounded yam, dodo, rice etc


Ofada rice


Eko and tilapia fish

Ewa and dodo

Fried rice, jollof rice, dodo, and fish(not sure which)

 

Pounded yam and Edikaikong

You know what these are 😂, we have them in Nigeria too

Ewa goin