Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

Searching for Freddie Mercury in Stone Town, Zanzibar

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Calm sunrise in Stone Town, Zanzibar

I recently returned from my big trip to Africa, where I visited Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa. The first stop on this trip was Stone Town, Zanzibar.

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Changing planes in Dar es Salaam

Zanzibar was the first place I ever visited in Africa, and I hadn’t been back in over 15 years. Located off the coast of Tanzania, in East Africa, Zanzibar played an important role in both the Spice Route and was a key port in the slave trade. But Zanzibar’s most famous export is the late singer and legendary Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.

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Rainbow at the DAR airport

Born Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury was born in Zanzibar to Persian immigrant parents who lived on the island to avoid religious persecution. On my first visit to Zanzibar over a decade ago, I was surprised by how little the tour guides knew about Mercury. Mercury’s openly homosexual lifestyle was at odd’s with Zanzibar’s prominently Muslim culture. I remember saying to my tour guide at the time, “yes, but he’s still FREDDIE f*cking MERCURY.”

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School girls in Stone Town, Zanzibar

I’m a huge music fan. And I’m not the only Queen nut who has come to Zanzibar to pay homage the legendary singer. Fortunately the island has warmed to Freddie since my last visit. There are now Freddie Mercury tours and even a Mercury House (part of the Tembo Hotel). Vice even wrote this piece about the uptick in Freddier Mercury related tourism.

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Left: a shaft of light in the slave holding quarters in Stone town Right: Park of the East African Slave Trade Memorial on Zanzibar

Zanzibar has made peace with it’s notorious roots in the East African slave trade. I have to think that it’s just a matter of time before it softens to Freddie Mercury’s lifestyle. At least I hope it is.

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The Tembo Hotel in Stone Town.

If you’re still not convinced that Freddie Mercury wasn’t incredible, I suggest you listen to this isolated track of vocals of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie singing Under Pressure.

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The new Park Hyatt Zanzibar in Stone Town

I understand Zanzibar’s tourism industry’s need to change the conversation regarding their most famous export. But Freddie will never be the island’s Favorite Son. What hit me, while I wandered the streets of Stone Town listening to Queen’s Greatest Hits, is that Freddie Mercury was always the odd man out.

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Giant doors in Stone Town

His Parsi parents were outsiders who lived in Zanzibar to escape religious persecution. And Freddie was gay at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable, making him an outsider to his outsider parents.

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I have no idea about the authenticity of the Mercury House in Stone Town

If you chat with the locals, they love to discuss EPL soccer. But if you mention Freddie Mercury, they noticeably stiffen.

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Pictures of Freddie Mercury on display in Stone Town

I saw Bob Marley t-shirts and pants for sale in Zanzibar, and he was Jamaican. Freddie Mercury-related tourism may be on the upswing, but no one was selling souvenirs with the Queen front man’s face on them. And there were certainly no locals wearing Queen t-shirts.

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The Mercury House in Stone town

So if you are fellow Queen fan who finds yourself in Stone Town, I suggest wandering around town with your earbuds in, listening to Queen, and taking in what it feels like to be an outsider.

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Spices for sale at the market in Stone Town

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Woman cooking breakfast in Stone Town

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Locals cooling off after a hot day in Stone Town

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 Soccer on the beach is a nightly ritual in Stone Tow

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Playing football in flip flops

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Sunset soccer on the beach

Or watch the locals play soccer on the beach at sunset while listening to Somebody to Love.

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 Dhows at Sunset in Stone Town

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Because Futebol: 50,000 Club Carlson Points World Cup Giveaway!

Blame it on Rio… or FIFA

I should be staying at the Radisson Hotel São Paulo Faria Lima right now, after watching the Netherlands vs. Argentina World Cup Semi-Final. Unfortunately, thanks to FIFA’s self-serving World Cup e-visa rules, I couldn’t get my Brazilian visa processed in time and had to cancel the trip.

Brazil’s loss is your gain. In honor of the World Cup, I’m giving away 50,000 Club Carlson points, redeemable for a night (or nights) at almost any RadissonBlu, RadissonPark Plaza, Park Inn, or Country Inns & Suites property.

Here’s how to be eligible to win the 50,000 Club Carlson Points:

Simply write which team you think will win the World Cup Final on Sunday– Germany or Argentina, in the comments thread of this blog post.

Everyone who selects the winning team will be entered in a random drawing after the there is a winner in the World Cup Final match on Sunday. You can only pick one team, and you can only enter once. You must enter your pick before the final match starts at Estádio Maracanã (that’s 12 pm Pacific time on July 13th).

The winner will be chosen via random number generator and announced on Monday, July 14th.

Good luck!

Flag made of Havianas flip-flops in Sao Paulo

By entering the My Life’s A Trip Giveaway, you agree that you have read the rules and consent to the terms and conditions contained therein.

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#FriFotos- Let’s Play Balls!

This week’s #FriFotos theme is “balls.” I am currently in Cape Town, a city I last visited during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Quarterfinals, so I have soccer on the brain.

Here are pictures of things related to balls including soccer stadiums and decorate round ostrich eggs, all taken here in South Africa.

Giant Ostrich eggs at Kwandwe make nice decorative balls, (South Africa, mobile photography)

Giant Ostrich Eggs at Kwandwe make nice decorative balls. Taken on my recent safari in South Africa.

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The Shore Club Miami Beach: Social Media Savvy

I have long been vocal about how social media today is a great equalizer for smaller brands who understand how important it is to have a strong voice and engaged audience. Sometimes the best cheerleader for a brand isn’t even the hotel itself, but a guest who has had a great experience there.

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During my recent girls trip to Miami with my friend Katie,  when it was clear that I needed to find a different hotel, preferably one located on Collins Avenue, I tweeted this:

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Twitter is a great resource for real-time information, you just need to know how to use it. Some tips: don’t tweet what you can google and learn how to correctly use hashtags (these are the words with the #sign before them. They are used to sort information).

Because I know how to use social media effectively and have an engaged following on twitter, I suspected that one of my followers someone might get back to me with some suggestions. Boy, did they! This use of social media to crowdsource potential options worked great for me.  A Miami based follower and friend of the blog, Ernesto Marrugo reached out to me with a few great suggestions.  Now I had a short list of suitable hotel properties. Another one of my follows, who is a major league lacrosse player who travels to Miami frequently suggested The Shore Club, which is his hotel of choice when he comes to South Beach.  We exchanged email addresses through direct messages on twitter, and then did our follow up communication through email. I had stayed at The Shore Club years earlier and liked it. My follower  was familiar with Miami, and because of my blog and social media presence and knew my taste and what I was looking for. He put me in touch with his contact at the property.

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A few hours later, I was happy to be settled into room 2001 (we scored an upgrade to a loft) which had a lovely sitting area and more than enough space for the both of us. Yes, it was a more expensive than our digs at the Standard, but because it was last minute, we were able to get a good rate. Spending more than we originally planned was fine—after all I wasn’t going to renting a paddle board on this trip so it made sense to get swankier accommodations, and the additional space allowed us hang out much more comfortably. We had a balcony!  With a beautiful view! I snapped a bunch of pictures with my iphone when we got a tour of the property and even got to peek at the swanky penthouse.

Cloudy Morning in South BeachMobile photography image of Miami beach on a cloudy morningPanorama picture of South Beach from Room at the Shore Club, Mobile photography, autostitch

Mobile photography Panorama picture of South Beach from Room at the Shore Club

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