I’d gotten my previous laptop bag from some chain store, Made in China, and of course the zipper broke just when I was traveling. I always bring my laptop with me, and it takes me around two connections to cross the Atlantic, with numerous safety screenings on the way. So there I was, with my broken bag, my stuff flowing out of my bag when I least wanted it. I swore that the next bag I’d get would be more durable.
Can you imagine anything more durable than safety belts and sails?
Last two months I’ve traveled with Globe Hope’s Saalinki messenger laptop bag, stitched out of old sails with a strap of safety belts. I’ve thrown it over my shoulder and rode my bike downtown to a cafe as well as flown to Finland, Florida and Texas through numerous airports. It’s big enough to fit long sleeves, noise-cancelling headphones, a couple books and cosmetics on the airplane, but small enough that it’s classified as a laptop bag that you can take in addition to your normal carry-on. When I flew Frontier and didn’t want to pay $35 for carry-on, it was small enough to classify as a free “personal item” that fits under the seat in front of you, and still left room for my feet.
The bag comes with both a zipper and a clip, which makes it well protected against pickpockets, but also means when I’m ina hurry or in a constant need to open it, I can just clip it without fear of losing anything. A small minus is that it’s got only three pockets besides the laptop compartment and large compartment in the bag: one inside, one outside, and one tiny one on the side. This means there’s no separate space to store my keys, tickets, passport and cell phone, but it’s more of a personal preference, and I think I’ll get used to it.
Besides being durable and handy, it’s also nice to know that my bag is ecological. Globe Hope’s production is Made in Finland and Estonia from beginning to end in small-scale seamstress shops, all of which are inspected for workplace safety and some of which are third sector organizations. The materials – seatbelts and sails – are something that would otherwise be thrown to the landfill and have now instead found a new usage, saving natural resources.
The ecological and socially responsible side of Globe Hope was why I contacted them to ask for the bag to test – and I’m very happy with the quality. Now as a reader of my blog, you also have a chance to win one of these bags. Just head over to Facebook to like my blog’s page and read how to take part!
Collecting world heritage sites is both fun and tricky, because you’ll never be finished. This is because UNESCO keeps on inscribing new properties to the list every year, and in this year’s meeting in Bonn, there were altogether 24 new sites added. Here they are:
8 new easily accessible sites to Europe…
Norway: Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site
Denmark: Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement
Denmark: The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand
Germany: Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus
France: Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars
France: Climats, terroirs of Burgundy
United Kingdom: The Forth Bridge
Italy: Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale
4 sites in the Americas, including a reason to travel to Texas…
Jamaica: Blue and John Crow Mountains
Mexico: Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System
Uruguay: Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape
USA: San Antonio Missions
7 new wonders in the Middle-East…
…including two in Iran and one in Saudi Arabia. Especially getting to the latter might be hard!
Iran: Cultural Landscape of Maymand
Israel: Necropolis of Bet She’arim
Jordan: Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas)
Saudi Arabia: Rock Art in the Hail Region
Turkey: Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
5 sites old and new in Far East…
China: Tusi Sites
Japan: Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution
South Korea: Baekje Historic Areas
Mongolia: Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape
Singapore: Botanical Gardens
And what’s the status of my collection now?
With a bunch of new places added to the list, my collection of world heritage sites grew with three new sites. Here they are:
I visited Champagne twice while living in Luxembourg. Once I went to Reims for a weekend to tour the cathedral – also an UNESCO site – and the smaller champagne houses in the area. The other time I visited Avenue de Champagne and the big famous houses as a day trip, and I remember especially well Mercier’s world’s largest champagne barrel and Castellane, the most popular champagne house in France, which is little known abroad, because almost all of its production goes to domestic markets.
I visited Dijon in March this year. I didn’t have time to stop by the vineyards of Burgundy, but since I spent several hours touring the historic old town as well as tasted local wines, I count this at least as a partial visit. The city’s very beautiful and well worth a longer trip thanks to its rich history.
I visited Palermo back in 2005 (or was it 2004?), so my memories are a bit shaky. I remember sitting on the steps of a cathedral, waiting for the siesta to end and for my boat to Naples to leave. Although I must have visited several churches and the palace, I don’t remember making a note of their Arab-Norman architecture, so even though technically-speaking this is mark on my list, I think this place demands a new visit from me.
After this, my total comes up to 105 visited world heritage sites! Only 926 more to go…
Have you been to any of these new world heritage sites? Which one would you like to visit the most?
I don’t really have one favorite food, but several: good burgers, oysters, snails, crayfish, raw fish, tartar steaks, and anything with cheese, eggplant or avocado, and the list goes on. What I crave for most varies daily. Today, it would be sautéed reindeer with lingonberry jam.
On vacation, I like to eat in restaurants with table service. I cook so much at home that it doesn’t really feel like a vacation if I’m cooking, although I do make an exception if we’re at a nice cabin with friends, enjoying the evening. For lunch, I’m fine with fast food or street food, but dinner in a local restaurant is an integral part of the travel experience for me. I’m not a fan of buffets either.
I don’t ever remember being disappointed in the local cuisine. Sometimes it’s been pretty simple, and a week-long sailing trip in Turkey will make me swear off kebap, but my deepest disappointments have been on the way to the destination. Yes, I’m talking about the sometimes inedible food on airplanes. And why on earth is Delta’s intercontinental veggie choice always the same tomato pasta?
I love starters, and if I’m in a buffet, I usually just stick to them. I usually consider ordering a starter in a restaurant even if I’m not that hungry, just for the tastes. Fortunately in the US, the starters are usually made for sharing, and even sharing the main dish is accepted, unlike in Europe, where in some places splitting the plate will cost you extra.
My favorite pizza is The Works by Backcountry Pizza in Boulder: sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, feta, banana peppers and olives. Usually in an American pizzeria I go for the pepperoni pizza, which reminds me of Fridays in an American school in the 90s: always pizza for lunch. In Europe, I usually go for the pizzas with pineapple, ham and gorgonzola.
I’ve taken cooking courses a couple times while traveling – in Hungary and Vietnam – and it’s always been a fun experience. What I like about the courses is when they teach you different techniques, because the ingredient lists I can always look up in a cook book. In Hungary, I was taught the exact moment when squash főzelék is ready – not overcooked, not undercooked – and in Vietnam, I learned the proper technique for rolling summer rolls and how to cut a decorative rose out of a tomato.
A couple years ago I would have sworn by Indian cuisine, but my stay in Central Europe changed me: French cuisine is the best in the world. The reason lies in its diversity: not just one kitchen but 22, one for each region, all with their own specialties, like galettes in Normandy (salty buckwheat crepes), “garnished” sauercraut in Alsace (where the garnishings are ten different sorts of meat), or snails in Burgundy, one of my favorite starters.
As for the drinks, I really like American craft beers: there are thousands to choose from, they’re made with passion and devotion, and they’re very decently priced on this side of the Atlantic. I especially like IPAs and Pale Ales. The only one that’s usually missing here is gueuze, the Belgian sour lambic, my favorite beer type – but not anymore, since our local brewery Upslope made a batch of it.
At home, we eat fairly internationally, thanks to my love of cook books. I love trying out new recipes, and cook books make great souvenirs. My favorite book is the one Iiro brought to me from Malesia many years ago, The Asian Kitchen, from which I cooked an Indonesian dinner a while ago. Most often in use at the moment is Recettes de brasserie that I brought from Paris, to aid in learning both French cooking and French food vocabulary.
I never bring food along with me for trips, except maybe for the first leg of the journey. For long train trips from Luxembourg, I usually picked up a baguette or a croissant from the station. In Colorado, we load the car full of water and soda, and if heading to the mountains, we take trail snacks in case we get stuck somewhere.
I like to bring home food souvenirs: dijon mustard in different flavors from Burgundy, Napoleon-beer from Waterloo, made by a local brewery that existed already during Napoleon’s times, and apparently his troops drank the same beer, and from Ireland, whiskey-flavored caramels. However, the best souvenirs are from when I visit Finland: salmiak and licorice candies, local Fazer chocolate, dip powder mixes (especially the one we call “American” that you certainly can’t get from America) and rye bread.
By the way, all the photos on this post are from Instagram. Before I started using it, I thought it was the social media where hipsters posted photos of the food they ate. Of course it’s so much more… but the food’s still there!
This post is part of Instagram Travel Thursday, a celebration of travel photos on Instagram and the stories behind them. You can find me on Instagram as @globecalledhome. The rest of the participants are below.