Eurotrip: Florence

We only had one day in the beautiful little city of Florence, but it was great. What a pretty little city. The heart of Italy’s artistic past.
The views are to die for, I suggest wondering through the city by yourself to get the most of it. There’s beauty to be found around very corner. We did a walking tour through the city, where we got to see the Statue of David, as well as the other magnificent statues surrounding him. 


We also attended a Leather Demonstration, which is Florence’s specialty. We learnt how leather is made and how to identify fake leather items. It was extremely informative and we were able to do some shopping afterwards. 
A few of the girls bought, what we called, puzzle rings. They’re a Florentine specialty. The ring is perfect when you wear it, but if you take it off, it will fall apart into four pieces. It’s quite complicated to reassemble. The story behind the ring is that a Florentine king knew his wife was cheating on him, so he gave her a ring that would reveal when she was being unfaithful (she would take her rings off to commit adultery!) it’s a fun little gift to get someone back home!


We found a really amazing spot, overlooking the city for a group photo! It was extremely windy up there, but I think we got Florence on a stormy day. 


The evening started with a traditional Florentine Dinner, which was delicious. SO much food! The Italians love to feed you, so if you’re eating out, don’t over order- check the portion size first then decide if you need more!


We ended off at the Red Garter, a local karaoke club in Florence. Bad singing, cocktail jugs and a dance floor? What more could you ask for?!


Florence is so beautiful. I wish we had had more time there, but our next stop was the Swiss Alps- so we had to get going! 

 

Eurotrip: Rome

Rome is just one of those cities you HAVE to see before you die. It’s like being in a time capsule and being able to experience the way the Romans lived in the past, because so many of their ancient buildings are still in tact. 
My time in Rome was filled with Gelato and lots and lots of pizza, accompanied by walking- so much walking! The city is huge, we had a day and a half to fit in all the big sites. 


We started with the Vatican City, we had a guided tour through the smallest city in the world. Our tour included the Sistine Chapel, which is amazing- it should definitely be on your bucket list. Our tour guide explained how Michelangelo designed and painted the ceiling of this beautiful chapel. After the Tour, we got to enter the Basilica. If you wanna see the Vatican, I suggest booking in advance to skip the queues (which go all the way around the block) or book a tour as part of a group. I could think of nothing worse than lining up for hours in The Roman Heat!


We then took a walk down to the Trevi Fountain and tossed some coins! (1 coin means you’ll return to Rome, 2 means you’ll find a new love and 3 means you’ll get married- I’m not telling how many I threw in!)  


It was then off to the mind-blowing colosseum, where we had a guided tour of the floor where the gladiator matches took place! It’s amazing how centuries later, this building is still in tact (with a few bits missing here and there) and standing. We had a few minutes to wander around and I managed to snap some awesome pics! 


Rome is referred to as the Lasagna City, because it has so many layers- this was evident during our tour of the Roman Forum, as we wondered through the ruins of Ancient Rome, my breath was taken away but how advanced the ancient Romans were regarding architecture. 


This time of the year Rome is extremely hot! If you’re going to be doing as much walking as we did, don’t forget to pack sunscreen and dress appropriately. For the religious cites, women need to have their shoulders and knees covered and men may not wear hats and should also be dressed respectfully. 
All in all, Rome was a great time. It was just too hot for me! Which is why I was glad to hear, that our next stop; Florence, was a bit cooler! 

Eurotrip: Venice

We arrived just off the coast of Venice we were stayed on a campsite that was just a 30 minute boat ride away from the floating city.

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Venice is a dream. It’s a time capsule, all the buildings and architecture represent a beauty that can only be claimed by the Venetians. The city is very small, you can walk from one end to the next in about 10-15 minutes. The streets wind into narrow alleyways, where you’ll find some of the best Italian coffee, gelato and pizza.

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If you’re looking for Gelato, I suggest finding a shop called Suso and treat yourself to one of Italy’s delicacies. Try the Spritz when you’re in the city, it’s a refreshing drink and you get a takeaway cup to walk around with while you shop.

We started our day with a walking tour through Venice, where we saw St. Marks Square as well as all the big monuments and important buildings. Our tour was just over two hours and ended in some Venetian Tapas and drinks. There are many walking tours in Venice, I suggest doing them so you can truly understand the history and beauty of the city.

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The local markets are filled with souvenirs, from sailor hats to fans, there’s something for everyone. The local mall houses all of the big designer brands, if you have some cash to spend, you’ll be able to shop till you drop there.

For lunch we got some Pizza and sat in the middle of St. Marks Square eating it. (Like real Italians)

Unfortunately it was raining on the day we were there, so to get out of the rain we went to see how Venetian Glass Ornaments are made at a glass blowing demonstration. It’s pretty amazing and it’s free to watch, so you should check that out!

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We took a gondola ride through the city, where we got to see Venice from a different angle. Do not leave Venice without getting on a Gondola, it’s a relaxing and beautiful ride.

For dinner we stopped at a place that sold Pasta in a box, these places are everywhere, so if you need a quick meal that’s a good suggestion.

All in all, it was a beautiful day in the Floating City. You’ll fall in love with it, just like I did.

Next stop, Rome!!!

Nadine Suliaman
20somethingsomethings.com

 

Eurotrip: Munich and Tyrol

The next stop on my journey was Munich, Germany. As we only had one day in the city, we had to try and fit in as many activities as we could into 24 hours.

We started off by taking a bike tour through the city with Mikes Bikes Tours, this tour is a must for anyone looking to explore the city’s attractions when you don’t have a lot of time. The tour guides are informed and witty and make for an entertaining bike ride. We saw some of the old Bavarian buildings and monuments.

We visited a few of the beer gardens, where we could catch some lunch. The English Garden is a must see, the locals spend their summers next to the river that runs through the garden and you might even see some topless sunbathers.

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Our evening ended visiting the Hofbrauhaus, which houses some of Munich’s local beers and cuisine. It gets extremely full, but the environment is lively and enjoyable.

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Next on our tour was a short stay in Austrian Tyrol, out in the country side.

On the way there, the group stopped for white water rafting. I didn’t join them as I thought it would be quite extreme but it turned out to be a very chilled experience for them.

I had signed up to go Tandem Paragliding, which is one of the main things you wanna do in Tyrol, but unfortunately due to weather conditions we were unable to do it.

There’s a few fun activities to do in the small town of Tyrol, the trout farm allows you to catch your own fish and have a chef prepare it for you. If you’re keen for a swim, the local lake is very popular and a beautiful landscape to take a dip in the water.

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Tyrol is beautiful in the summer, which is why I can only imagine what it looks like in winter when it’s covered in snow! It’s a huge skiing destination in the winter, so if snow and skiing is what you’re after, that’s the perfect time to visit.

All in all, it was a great time in these two cities. The next stop on our trip took us to Venice, Italy! I’m ready for some pizza!!!

Nadine Suliaman
20somethingsomethings.com

 

Eurotrip: Berlin

After spending the day traveling to Berlin, I decided that my first night in the city would be a chilled one. We stayed at the Plus Berlin Hostel, which is a great space for young travelers. The hostel has a bar and restaurant, a pool, table tennis, a sauna and loads of awesome spaces to ensure you have the time of your life.

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Berlin is so rich in history, it’s quite inspiring to see everything that Germany has been through yet they are still trying to correct the mistakes of the past. Berlin is now one of the most accepting and tolerant places in Europe.

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The next day, we woke up bright and early and assembled at the TV Tower, where we started a walking tour of Berlin, by Original Berlin Walks. The tour lasted just over three hours, but gave us all the information on the monuments and world war memorials. If you don’t have a lot of time in the city, signing up for one of these tours is a great idea. Some of the sights we saw included the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, a remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, the Memorial to the Murdered a Jews, the site of Hitler’s bunker etc. Our tour guide Lindsey, was extremely informed and helpful.

I then spent the day exploring Berlin’s shopping scene. The Mall of Berlin is huge and has stores to satisfy all your shopping needs- plus they have a really good food court that has food options from all over the world.

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The evening saw us taking another tour, called Cold War and Cold Drinks. Which covered the effect of the Cold War on Berlin and how the Berlin Wall affected the people living in the city. The tour included two bar stops which gave us complimentary drinks and a German Pretzel!

The night ended with drinks in the outdoor bar at the hostel, which was a great way to end the busy day we had!

 

Don’t forget!
– Sunscreen! It’s extremely hot in Berlin and you don’t wanna get sunburnt while touring the city.

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Now we’re off to Prague, in the Czech Republic! Along the way we stopped in Dresden, a beautiful little city with amazing architecture.

See you in Prague!

Eurotrip: Amsterdam

I knew the moment I arrived in Amsterdam I was going to fall in love with the city. It’s such a pretty city, and I’m probably gonna say that a lot on this trip. But still. It’s amazingly pretty.
From the green trees, to the old buildings, to almost getting knocked over by cyclists, the city definitely has a charm of its own.
I spent the day exploring. Vondelpark is near the city center and is a must see on your trip to Amsterdam. It’s beautiful and filled with people doing yoga, karate and other organized group activities. It’s got some good locations for pictures if that’s what you’re after. 
The first night started with a bang, the tour group visited the infamous Red Light District. If you’re of age, it’s a great time. Experiencing the culture in Amsterdam at its core. We visited an adult club which put on a special show for us. We then spent the rest of the night visiting the local pubs and bars, and even stopped at The Bulldog, which is the first Coffee Shop in Amsterdam.


Things to know before you go:

– always pack a jacket, Amsterdam is known for its rain.

– Look out for cyclists and stay out of the cycling lane!

– No pictures in the RLD, your phone will end up in the canal.

– Hold onto your valuables, the city is known for its pickpockets.  
On our second day in Amsterdam, we went out to the country side- Edam. This part of Amsterdam is known for its cheese and clogs. We started the day with a beautiful bike tour through Edam. The bikes that most people ride in Amsterdam are Granny Bikes, which have no gears and are pretty hard to get the hang of if you’re used to a traditional mountain bike. 


We then went to see how Cheese and Clogs were made by the natives and did some cheese tasting and souvenir shopping.
The afternoon was spent exploring the city and doing some shopping. We visited the I Amsterdam sign, which was extremely busy and almost impossible to get a decent picture. We went shopping in the area around Amsterdam Central which was buzzing on a Saturday afternoon. All the big names in shopping are there, it’s great if shopping is your aim! 


The evening started with a Private Canal Cruise, this is something you must do in Amsterdam, so you can really experience the beauty of the city from the canals.


We then headed off for dinner in the traditional town of Volendam, where I had a traditional Dutch meal. Try the fish. It’s delicious. The night ended with us partying into the early hours of the morning. There are lots of great night club spots in Amsterdam and you’re bound to find something you enjoy.


All in all, Amsterdam gets an A+ from me and has moved up on my list of favorite cities. I plan on retiring here- that’s how much I love it. 
Now we’re off to Berlin! Woohoo! 

Why You Should Give Your Gyno A Call!

Hey 20 Somethings!

Now I know, there is nothing more awkward than the thought of having to undress from the bottom down and place your legs on stirrups, exposing yourself in places you’d rather not be exposed in. But let’s be real. Gynecologist appointments are something you just have to accept as a part of your female life.

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A lot of 20 something women are under the impression that they only need to see a Gyno when they’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Nope! You should be seeing a gynaecologist as soon as you start having sex. Otherwise the recommended age to start making those appointments is 21.

Some experts say you should only schedule a pap once every three years, others recommend getting it done annually. It all depends on your body, you and your doctor will be able to discuss how frequent you should be coming in.

So what is a Pap Smear?
Pap Smears are tests that can detect abnormal cells in or on the cervix. (The type of cells that can be cancerous) Pap Smears help identify abnormal cells and treat them before they can become cancerous. (See why they’re important?)

Fact: Cervical Cancer is the number 1 ranked cancer in women aged 15 to 44 in South Africa.

It’s important you are educated about what’s going on down there. Ask your doctor lots of questions, it’s your body after all. Your doctor can also explain ways to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies if you are sexually active.

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Another important conversation to have with your Gyno is whether to get the HPV Vaccination, which can help in preventing Cervical Cancer drastically.

Also, Gynecologists are not what our mother’s experienced, so if you’re worried about having a man all up in your business, stop. There are PLENTY of amazing female Gyno’s who will make you feel so comfortable and at ease.

So what are you waiting for? Schedule an appointment now!

Until next time!
Nadine.

What I’m Reading (May 2017)

Hey 20 Something Bookworms!

It’s the end of the month so that means it’s time for the May edition of “What I’m Reading!” Yay!!

Vantage Points

So this month, I read two really good books. They’re possibly two of my favourites so far this year.

So the first one I read this year was “Everything, Everything” By Nicola Yoon. This is another book which I bought because I saw the movie trailer and thought, “That looks pretty good! I should read that book.” It’s a young adult book, its target audience is mostly teenagers, so I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it. But it surprised me. The story follows Madeline, an 18 Year old girl who has a rare disease that makes her allergic to everything. This disease has kept her from leaving her house. Ever. But her life get’s turned upside down when her new neighbours move in and she learns things about herself and her mother she could never have imagined. Read it. Its a great book.

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I then read “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. Oh. My. God. It will change your life. If you’re a fan of Shonda’s TV shows, you’ll enjoy this book, it’s almost like a love letter from Shonda to the women of the world. It’s great. I’m not going to tell you too much about it because I don’t think I could do it any justice. But if you’re looking for something to read, this should be at the top of your list!

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Be sure to let me know what you’re reading this month, is there anything you think I should add to my reading list?

Until next month!
Nadine

What I’m Reading (Jan-Apr 2017)

Vantage Points
Hey hey hey!
Welcome to a new part of my blog called “What I’m Reading”. Once a month I will be posting about the books I have had the pleasure of reading that month and giving you a quick one-liner (By one-liner I mean paragraph) about what I thought about it!

Think of it as a book club, where I do all the reading!

So my goal this year is to read at least 20 books. Since we are already in May, I’ll be sharing with you all the books I have read until April and post about May at the end of the month!

Let’s get started, shall we?

In January I read Trevor Noah’s “Born A Crime”. What a Great Book. South Africans of all races should be reading this book. If you’re white, it will help you understand your white privilege. For POC’s it gives an educated commentary on the effects of Apartheid on today’s generation. Trevor Noah retells stories of his childhood and how being mixed race affected him growing up. One of my favourite books so far!

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In February I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s “Purple Hibiscus”. It’s a heavy read. You need to be emotionally ready for this book. It took me a long time to read because I had to put it down a few times and process, Chimamanda’s books will do that to you though.

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I then read Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why”. I had seen the trailer for the series and thought, damn, I need to read this book. It’s a young adult novel, aimed at Teenagers. I took me two days to read. It’s not a bad book. It’s pretty hectic, if you’ve watched the series, you’ll know what to expect. The book doesn’t go as deep into the character back stories as the series does but it’s still a good read.

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In March I then decided to take on Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”. I was never ready for this one. It’s A lot. Like I had to put this one down more times than I put Purple Hibiscus down. The story line focusses on the Nigerian Civil War. It’s hectic. But read it.

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I then took on Paulo Coelho’s “Aleph”. Paulo is one of my favourite authors. I enjoy everything he writes. The man can do no wrong. This book was a smooth read after HAYS about finding your soulmate and finding yourself. It was a very personal story for Paulo and most of it seemed to be written straight from his own life.

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Then in April I decided to finish the Chimamanda Holy Trinity and read “Americanah”. What a beautiful book. My favourite one of Chimamanda’s. It follows a love story between two Nigerian characters and how they’re lives are affected when the female, Ifemelu decides to move to America to study. It broke my heart a thousand times and fixed it over and over again in the space of 400+ pages.

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I then returned to Paulo Coelho and read “Eleven Minutes”. One of his darker stories about a Brazilian Prositute and her struggle between choosing her profession or going against everything she believes in and choosing love. It’s a lovely story. And a short book.

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So that’s my reading up until now in the year. If you have any book suggestions for me, send them my way. I love books. And I love suggestions!

Happy Reading!

Saving Money in Your 20s

Hey 20-Somethings! 

So saving in your 20s can be a bit of a task, I know, I’m there with you. What makes it hard is that; in your 20s you are suddenly thrust into adulthood where you have all these new expenses that you never had before. It’s horrible. Adulthood is not fair. But it has to be done. So let’s look at ways you can start saving money in these early years of adulthood, shall we?

 

1. Keep Track of Your Expenses!

 

First you need to establish what you spend your money on. The best way to do this, is to collect every single till slip and receipt from every transaction you make for a month. Make sure you label the slips, so you know what you bought. After a month of doing this, go through your expenses and calculate how much money you spent on food, clothes, entertainment, bills etc. This should give you a good indication about where the bulk of your money is going. (A BULK of my money goes to food. Like, a lot of food. A girl’s gotta eat!)

 

2. Draw Up a Budget!

 

Look you don’t have to have an accounting degree to draw up a basic budget. But for those of you who are not sure how to do this, you can google a budget format, or your computer should have a template in your Pages or Word app. But basically you need to compare your projected income against your projected expenses (based on your past expenditure) 
When working with your expenses, make set amounts for each expense (how much you’re willing to spend on each thing) 

If you’re keen to save money, you should always ensure that your Expenses are less than your income!

 

Now try and stick to this budget each month- it’s going to be hard but you have to be STRICT with yourself. 
To draw up a digital budget, check out Mint

 

3. Set a Savings Goal.

 

You will need a long-term goal (What you’d like to have saved up after 5 years) and a short-term goal (What you’d like to have saved up by the end of the year) Many experts advise that you should save 10% of your monthly income. That’s not too bad! That’s like R100 of every R1000 you earn! You can do this!

 

4. Start Saying No!

 

You don’t have to attend every single party, see every single movie on circuit or have the latest pair of jeans. Saving money means self discipline. My trick is to have a set amount in my bank account that I refuse to go under, so once I reach that amount, I start telling my friends, ‘Ahh, sorry, I can’t. I’m broke” – when in actual fact I’m not. Pretending to be broke could really save you money. But make sure that that set amount increases every year – otherwise you’re just standing still.

 

5. Think Your Purchases Through.

 

No more impulse buys! From now on, if you want something, give yourself a week to think about it. Is it worth it? Does your budget allow for a new expense? Do you really need it?

I know a lot of people spend money for other people. We buy cars, clothes, shoes etc. that we can’t afford because we are so obsessed by what others think of us. Forget about them! They are not going to pay your bills. Focus on you and what you can afford. 

 

6. Start Looking for Investment Options.

 

Investing your money in a Unit Trust is one the smartest way to make your money work for you! You Earn interest on your money by doing nothing! Just investing it! Girl!
If you are looking into Investment options, but you don’t know where to start, Satrix.co.za is a good place to start!
Or if you’re scared of investing, try a fixed deposit with your local bank. The interest rates are a lot lower, but you’ll see the power of investing and start building the confidence to invest more. 
And now, a quote, courtesy of my dad, the investor;

Rumour has it that Albert Einstein once said “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” Whether or not he actually said it is a moot point. That’s the topic of another blog in this series of financial independence. What matters is that you start investing as soon as possible. The best time to start investing was 10 years ago; the 2nd best time is now.

 

 

So Those are my tips for saving money in your 20s. The trick is to remember that your financial situation is private, if you want everyone to know how much money you have, you may need to grow up a little bit. You’re not in financial competition with anyone, so you don’t need to buy things to give the impression that you’re doing well. When you’re financially secure, it will speak much louder than the new pair of Nikes on your feet.        

 

What are your tips to saving money? Be sure to comment them below and share them with us!

 

Until Next Time!

Nadine