• Zambia and Botswana low-cost

    For lovers of wild nature, Africa has always been the destination par excellence. Let’s start dreaming of it as a child , when we are enchanted in front of the documentaries on TV or the photos of bizarre creatures on the Encyclopedia of Animals (yes, in my day we looked at the encyclopedia and not on the web).

    On my first trip to the black continent, I had chosen to visit the national park and Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, to stifle my dreams of explorer, while I was planning my own personal adventure, the costs intervened. Of course, organized tours, in the period of special offers, are quite accessible, but, wanting to travel independently, I was resigned to the idea that Africa was a destination for the rich. Staying in the lodges inside the parks, and even planting a simple tent, was out of my reach, but I did not intend to join a hurried group of thirty people and jostle for a picture.

    After some research on the web (well, in the end I left the encyclopedia), I looked at the Republic of Zambia , a country underestimated by the majority of the tours. Bordering with eight different nations, it is the perfect base to explore the most interesting destinations in the area. Here, then, is the solution to my budget problems: Livingstone .

    This dusty and picturesque town proved to be a trump card to make ends meet because, suffering from the competition of Victoria Falls in neighboring Zimbabwe, it found itself having to offer accommodation and services at lower prices to attract tourists.

    For example, by renting a double room with private bathroom in a colorful hostel, my partner and I spent € 24 per person per night. Spend even less if you give up the private bathroom, but if you stay a long time, it is convenient to have it in your room. The hostel also had a swimming pool, bar, restaurant and a kitchen where guests could prepare their meals, but along the main street of Livingstone there are several places where to taste the typical dishes at a good price and a minimarket where to stock up on water and fruit for excursions.

    Another point in favor of Livingstone: the position compared to the places I wanted to visit. While Victoria Falls has been built so close to the waterfalls that can be reached on foot, Livingstone is about 10km away, but, in order not to discourage tourists, several hotels and hostels offer a free shuttle service to the park entrance. From there, several paths start to enjoy the famous waterfalls from every angle , walking among zebras, baboons and a variety of birds. Depending on the season, you can buy at the reception a boat tour, rafting and walking tours that go up to Devil’s Pot, a puddle in the rocks where you can swim overlooking the falls .


  • Marrakech: savoring Morocco

    The cuisine of Morocco, well represented in Marrakech, is a mix of aromas and flavors .

    Many spices, a lot of pepper (well dosed), and mixture of traditions and peoples .

    The inhabitants of Morocco have learned to use olives and dried fruit from the Spaniards. The Arabs have learned how to dose the spices with great skill, but in turn they have taught visitors or conquerors cooking on the grill or inside the Tajine.

    All foods are taken into consideration: cous cous, legumes, fish and seafood, lamb, fruit and vegetables and even bread, essential on the table, and which is sometimes used instead of cutlery.

    If you go around Marrakech you can experiment, even taste, better still taste this cross-section of culinary history.

    Here some tips on where to eat and what to Marrakech:Kefta – to be eaten at Place Jemaa el-fna,
    At the counter No.1 Es Aicha – do not appear on the menu, but just ask the waiters. And in a flash, in colored plates, spicy meatballs will appear and cooked on the grill . Strictly accompanied with the Harira, really really spicy tomato sauce.

    Pastilla – one of the best places is the café Zaza . 
    A small café located in the middle of the suok with a large terrace overlooking the banks and the life of the market. La Pastilla is a sweet-savory dish. A mixture of chopped almonds and chicken , or even more pigeon, covered with filo pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.Kosy Bar – “Milanese” aperitif in marrochina sauce . 
    Near the Mellah, the Jewish synagogue and the royal palace there is Ferblantier square where there are many shops of lamps and metal objects. In one corner, from which you can see the nests of the storks that nest on the walls of Bahia palace, there is the Kosy Bar, a place that combines the tradition of spices and oriental flavors with a modern and western-style atmosphere. A good aperitif with curry olives, goat’s cheese and cardamom meatballs all accompanied by sips of Casablanca beer.


  • 2 months you flew to heaven

    It’s already been 2 months without you but every morning I remember your smile like the first time, I’ll never forget my love. You are my strength.

    Saturday there was the concert during which I described our project in front of hundreds of people who support us, it was an exciting evening, as you repeat, I realize more and more that I am not alone, thank you very much to everyone.

    While I was talking on the microphone, it seemed to feel like I was next to me, to see you among the people, to feel your scent light, I know that you too, my love, you are always next to me.

    Among the stalls of the church where we greeted you for the last time the eyes of your mother Antonella shone with pride for you dear Martha, because she also knows that what I’m about to do, it’s all thanks to you.

    A special thanks also to the boys of the missionary choir of  Tata Nzambe   who, among the notes of their songs, accompanied my presentation. In this period I continue to be amazed at the goodness of mind of people like Diego, who without knowing me allowed the organization of this concert or as Ricky of the choir who, without asking anything, prepared everything. They too are the pieces of a great puzzle that is magically completing itself.

    Here I am arrived at the definitive itinerary of my long journey on foot for charity (# marta4kids), each dot is a destination for a total of 324 days, a number that just thinking about it, is in itself a journey.

    Only 33 days left before the start, there are still many things to prepare but I’m already at a good point, I never thought I could do it in such a short time, it’s all thanks to you that you follow me and support me, I appreciate it very much; together, we will bring smiles and hope to those who are not so lucky.

  • The beaches of Zanzibar

    Zanzibar is a true natural paradise. A pearl immersed in the Indian Ocean . I saw colors on that island that I had not seen anywhere else in the world.

    The first time you are faced with this magnificent sea, you can not but be breathless. The fast flow of the tides gives true color shows because the sea acquires infinite shades of blue that change very quickly. The beautiful white beaches are able to give more prominence to the ocean, making the landscape a continuous postcard.

    But despite the beauty can be found everywhere, and you can hardly be mistaken in choosing one place rather than another on the island, it is good to consider that the small Zanzibar offers very different maritime locations between them. I can not make a top because it would be very difficult and probably wrong to put them in order of ranking. I believe that everyone should look forhis special place , the one that responds completely to his needs that can be very different from one individual to another. So I will try to describe the three main areas so that everyone can understand where to choose to stay.

    THE COAST IN THE NORTH

    The main towns located to the north of the island are Nungwi and Kendwa . In general, this part of the island is less affected by the trend of the tides and this is why it makes swimming possible at any time of day. Nungwi is larger and most of the accommodation is located here. It has a very tourist center but just move to the northern part to find an oasis of tranquility. In fact, the area near the lighthouse, still retains a very genuine character thanks to the beautiful beach that the villagers use to build their typical boats, the dhows .

    In Nungwui the beaches are not immense and the rocks alternate with suggestive beaches of fine sand. The village is the most beautiful that I have seen on the island and, although it is a bit snubbed by tourists, I think it is worth visiting because it offers the opportunity to observe more closely the busy inhabitants in their daily activities.


  • Where to Eat in Jacksonville, FL

    Florida is an epicurean’s deli world, which is popular for Latin American cuisines. Jacksonville is named the seaside river city and well known for fish and seafood. Foodies may include this city on the top of their repository of food trips.

    Riverside or beachside restaurants in this city are to be hit first. Some popular cuisines are Steakhouse Jacksonville Fl, Mexican Jacksonville Fl, Caribbean Jacksonville Fl, and Cuban Jacksonville Fl. Do not miss the stone crabs, snappers, chops, rock shrimps, Cuban sandwiches, and Apalachicola oysters. If you are looking for thrifty delights, you may order pies, chomps, Texas-style BBQs, and pizzas.

    Stonewood Grill & Tavern

    It offers lustrous dining with an exotic seafood menu and branded wine and cocktail. This is a popular grill restaurant that invites with “n” number of steak, fish, and beef dishes. You have a chance to order turf n surf specials like groupers, crabs, lobsters, flounders, and shrimps. Catch the flavored season dishes, morsels, soups, oak grilled salads, hot pot and roasted chicken, and desserts. The tavern offers a wide range of drinks, handcrafted burgers, and unique cocktails of the week, what you would never imagined. You may reserve a party to enjoy fresh and yummy crunches, chops, and desserts with the group.

    Orsay

    It is in the top ten of the best restaurants in Jacksonville. It is a friendly and unpretentious French bistro serving Avondale food and local produce. You feel stuffed with delight ordering mussels, scallops, chestnut roasts, truffles, and pastries. They come up with different flavors and creamy texture. While mellowing crunchy sea-salt varieties, you get a complementary taste of bittersweet and saltiness. Chefs turn the items with seasons, yet a palate of scrumptious dishes is before buffs. Some of the top dishes to try are oysters, marinated calamari, scallop crudo, rillettes, tartare, and tortes.

    The Tree Steakhouse

    As the name suggests, it has the best of steak and seafood varieties, certified black beef, and a range of wines. It is known for its ribs, rib-eye steaks, and filets. It offers an exclusive polished room for guests and parties with a clean and casual atmosphere. This traditional steakhouse has separate chophouses with stylish interiors for private events.

    Gourmets may have a large selection of banquet items and enjoy their platters and buffets. They can gobble delicious local sea-salt dishes with exotic flavors and seasons. Oak bar specials in this restaurant are branded beer, white wine, and cocktail.

    13 Gypsies

    It is a Spanish style chop offering classic Spanish tapas, risottos, market fish varieties, Italian cheese toasts, sausage, and handmade bread. It is a multiculinary specializing in Spanish, Avondale, Asian, Argentinean styles.

    It is premier in serving small plates and they win over other bistros with a mix of different ingredients and hard work to yield bona fide country foods. Foodies may hit this small but great restaurant for guzzling hip delicious items. They can enjoy piquant flavors of grills, rice with meat and veggies, and rice with other variations.

    Gilbert’s Southern Kitchen and Bar

    It offers contemporary dining with normal rates for its authentic Southern food. The mainstays in this restaurant are chicken, fish, and shrimp, though it is worth taking other menu items too. Here you can enjoy variations of flavors with smoked and fried hot chicken.

    Those who went to main city and beachside restaurants as well as steakhouses in Jacksonville will certainly recommend food trips to others.


  • Essaouira, the pearl of Morocco

    In the 60s Essaouira was the destination of the hippies , thanks to Jimmy Hendrix who is said to have composed “Castle made of sand” thinking in this city; Orson Welles shot us “Othello”. Today Essaouira is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco.

    This small town, with a population of just over 70,000, attracts many tourists every year: from penniless surfers to golfers in extra-luxury resorts .

    But what makes this city so magnetic?

    First of all, it is incredibly beautiful: the first time you set foot in Essaouira you will be fascinated. Certainly I’m biased, because I have maintained an emotional bond with this city, but this pearl deserves a stop on a tour of Morocco.

    But what is really unmissable? To visit Eassaouira it is necessary to consider stopping at least two days; if you want to surf then the stay is prolonged. Many travelers often stop for a long time in Essaouira to savor the tranquility and leave the chaotic Marrakech behind. There are no shortage of places to relax, but pay attention to the existent months: even the Moroccans know the beauty of the beaches and take them by storm!

    Here is the best of Essaouira:

    1- the Medina is rather small but really beautiful: you can find local craft shops , small restaurants with typical cuisine, luxurious boutiques and corners of natural cosmetics.

    The wood craftsmanship is typical of the area, so you will find many stores of objects derived from it. Also the argan is typical of this area: there are in fact numerous cooperatives of women who work this miraculous plant. In this regard, I would like to mention that the argan grows only in the region south of Essaouira so here you find the original oil coveted in Europe (at more than fair prices, which can also go to women’s cooperatives).


  • Sudan on the road

    It took around 7 hours of waiting and flying, but finally the dry African heat of the 18 managed to make itself heard. 
    Indistinguishable voices, different perfumes, bright colors, “scarab” signs, piped prayers from loudspeakers precariously fixed to the walls, businessmen in elegant suits and veiled women with hands adorned with black and necks embellished with showy yellow gold, very calm children (the same ones who cried for hours during the flight). This was my first impact with Khartoum , Sudan .

    It will seem egocentric but as soon as I arrived I felt many eyes focused on me. Then, looking back, it was not so unusual. Diversity attracts much more than everyday life, we know, and skin, hair and clothes so different are highlighted; behind all those looks, however, there was only a great curiosity. They certainly thought what I was doing there since Sudan tourism is not so widespread .

    Along the road that ran to the house that we would use as a base I enjoyed noticing the many battered cars that overtook to the right, their red lights and the green lights of the traffic lights. The rest was dust and had a scent all its own …

    The light of the next morning was too strong and to be able to see the 4 × 4 parked just outside the gate you had to squint. Experienced hands had already loaded it meticulously, given the experience of desert adventures in the past: on the luggage racks, sleeping bags, camping table and chairs, while the back had turned into a restaurant. 
    Our goal was precise but at the same we had not given the limits to be respected. We only knew that we would head north and that we would be in the desert, in the Nubia region, in the pyramids, in the remote villages (which are those where life, as we understand it, is impossible).

    Khartoum was not as I expected it . Probably my expectations corresponded to those of anyone else thinking of Sudan: city, to call them with a euphemism, small and messy. Instead, the first surprises: apart from the size and population of 5 million people, the road that accompanied us to the gates of the city was wide and after all clean. Poverty, however, you could see, this is obvious .. Always from the window I looked out and I took care not to put too much emphasis on my camera, especially near the police.

    For many kilometers, mini-markets have been the master along with many small shops (with their faded signs, their goods mainly based on fresh fruit and dates, exposed with precarious balance, and a few drinks). 
    There was no precise boundary, one could not say where the city ended and nothing started . It was only noticed that the number of machines decreased and that of the goats increased. Then, all of a sudden, only the dunes .


  • Casablanca, big city life

    Casablanca, unlike other cities, will never be love at first sight. Falling in love at first sight of this city is really impossible. I have never heard anyone sustain the overwhelming beauty of this city, I for one. But I can also say that maybe I would not live in any other city in Morocco , because it is so, you love it or hate it , but in any case, it deserves a visit or at least a reading.

    This metropolis has a high number of inhabitants (sometimes read 3 million, sometimes 7, sometimes 12), boasting the primacy of the first city of Morocco. It is the financial and economic capital , and this attracts an ever-increasing number of people, attracted by the possibility of finding work, which are going to fill the suburban neighborhoods of the city that is actually expanding inward. Yes, because there is also to add that Casablanca is the most expensive city in the country , rents are very high, and living near the center is a privilege of few (and Europeans).
    It is a metropolis with long tentacles where you can feel like in many European capitals, shops and cafes are the same, restaurants and bars full of businessmen in aperitif hours, discos for all tastes, and very little tradition and religion . The girls with the veil in Casablanca are few, and it will be easy to find women at the bar that show off clothes worthy of via Montenapoleone.Yet here we find the Hassan II Mosque , the largest mosque in Morocco and among the largest in the Arab world (the first two in the ranking are in Saudi Arabia). An imposing construction, built following the most modern architectural techniques and the sacred scriptures of the Koran. New and ancient to blend in a place that holds up to 25,000 faithful in prayer inside and 80,000 outside. Among other things, we can take a bit of merit because the glass comes from Venice and the marbles from Carrara .

    The Hassan II mosque was built for the will of King Hassan II (father of the current king), and two-thirds of his structure is on the water ; we find here two aspects of religion: in fact in the Qur’an it is said that God’s throne is built on water and whoever in life has built a place for God, will have a better place in paradise.Although not the most tourist attraction of Casablanca, it is worth visiting too because it is the only mosque in which non-Muslims can enter; in fact, in Morocco entry into any mosque is forbidden to anyone who is not a Muslim. The fact remains that to enter the mosque there are precise times, can not be visited during prayer hours, and during Ramadan the hours are even more limited. And obviously there are limits in clothing, being forbidden to enter with skimpy clothes (even if common sense would be sufficient without the need for rules.)

    Once you visit the mosque, you can go to the second most visited place in the city, the Habous district : it certainly recalls the ancient medes of Fes or Marrakech , but was conceived by a French architect in 1917. Unfortunately the maladministration has meant that this neighborhood is rather decayed, without prejudice to the possibility of finding Moroccan crafts and small pastries with typical products , which is rather difficult in the rest of the city.


  • The Okavango, the delta that flows into the desert

    In the heart of the arid lands of Botswana it is an enchanted place, a place characterized by calm waters, reeds and landscapes spotted with bright green: This is the Okavango Delta,which is the largest inland river delta in the world .

    The Okavango River, the third largest river in Africa, travels over 1000 km without ever finding the way of the sea and therefore its waters end their journey here, absorbed by the saltworks located in the central part of Botswana. This river, which disperses its waters on the border with the desert lands of the Kalahari, creates a landscape of rare beauty and a perfect environment for the sustenance of a myriad of animals .

    The delta contracts and expands according to the seasonal rhythm of the rains . Starting in March, the abundant rains that fall in Angola, start to swell the river. During the following months the rains gradually moved westwards, following the course of the river. Between June and July the delta reaches the greatest water flow so as to get to earn up to 3 km a day . In August the flow of the river decreases and the labyrinthine canals start to back away. The major dry period is from November to March.

    The truck of our group of Adventures In the World leaves us in Maun, in front of a small airport where we get on board a Cessna plane . The small size of the aircraft makes it much more sensitive to air currents and the young rider’s acrobatics driving us in this sensational panoramic flight do not help the weak of the stomach. Despite this the eyes, or the part of the body that, in this situation, can claim the right to say the last word, thank you for being here.

    In fact, from above, the complex grid of canals, lagoons and islands and the colors of the earth mixed with the green of the vegetation and the iridescent blue of the water, give the vision of a lunar landscape . Small dark dots move slowly on these strips of land emerged, and only when the aircraft is lowered I can decode them: they are large herds of elephants, buffaloes and zebras .

    It is as if it were a large mosaic that only observed closely reveals the pieces that compose it. A mosaic created by animals, lagoons, islands, canals, forests and forests of aquatic plants .

    The flight lasts more than half an hour and allows you to enjoy views very different from each other since this type of landscape changes its appearance depending on the amount of water present in each area.

    As wonderful as this Delta seen from above, in my opinion, you can not go away from here without having experienced the unique experience of navigating its waters with the typical mokoro , a traditional boat made from an ebony trunk .

    In fact, the mokoro in ebony are increasingly rare because they are replaced by the more “eco friendly” glass fiber mokoro, but I admit they do not have the same charm. Whether they are made of ebony or fiberglass, what does not change is the first impression of instability that they transmit, certainly due to the very low, narrow and elongated shape. But unlike what you can think of, mokoro are perfect boats for sliding quickly over the shallow waters of the Delta .

    There are two seats, while at the stern a boatman pushes the boat with a ngashi , that is, more simply, a long wooden perch that sinks on the soft backdrop acts as a lever.

    There are things that this excursion is right to expect, others not.

    For example, you do not expect huge packs of animals on the banks. To spot elephants, zebras and lions it is advisable to get off the mokoro and take a guided tour by land.

    But if you expect that peace and serenity that only the silence is broken by genuine, genuine sounds, such as the light rubbing of the boat on the water and the rustling that it creates making its way through the reeds, then you are in the right place.

    Just as you are in the right place if you can not resist the magnetism of calm and transparent water because, following carefully the instructions of the boatmen who can indicate suitable areas, you can immerse yourself in the cool waters in a unique environment in the world .