Thursday, July 10, 2014


Hi everyone! 

I haven't been blogging for a long time. But finally, I'm back on track, and I also have a very new blog:

You will find the latest articles on that link!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking for the northern lights

I travelled in January to Svalbard (78 N), with my boyfriend, hoping to see the Aurora Borealis. Knowing that it is 24 hours darkness during this time of the year, I thought I would have more chance to see those legendary northern lights. I was wrong. The sky was cloudy the time we were there and the only night we had no clouds, it was full moon and too bright to see the northern lights (we saw some tiny lights in the sky, but quite disappointing).

I travelled back in the north in March, to Swedish Lappland, with a group of friends. One of my friend was quite experienced in chasing northern lights, and we were extremely lucky to see them the first night despite the cloudy weather, and the last night thanks to the very good Auroral Forecasts.


The feelings we have been through while watching the aurora



The best chance to see the Aurora Borealis in Europe is in the auroral zone, which means northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The northern lights are visible when it is fairly dark, which means that you'll have more chance to see these between September and April (depending where you are). During the spring and summer, the sun can shine for 24 hours, so you'll have no chance to see the Aurora.

We saw the northern lights in Sweden, first in Björkliden (first picture) and then in Kiruna (picture below). Those two cities are linked by the railway, and you can reach this part of the world by plane with Norwegian or SAS to Kiruna. If you have time, you can enjoy the train ride of 17 hours from Stockholm to Kiruna.
We rented a cabin with sauna in Björkliden Fjällby and stayed in a hostel in Kiruna. In both case, we went by ourselves to look for the northern light, out of the city lights. We stayed nearby one of the ski track in Björkliden, and in Kiruna, we walked out of the city and stayed on a mountain/hill.

It is also possible to see the Northern Lights in Svalbard (Norway), but we missed it (due to the bad weather condition and probably because we did not know how to look for these). It is still a good spot to see them, I have heard. You can fly to Longyearbyen (Svalbard biggest city) with Norwegian. We stayed at Trapper's hotel base camp. I would advise you to ask around where is the best spot in the city to see the lights. Best is to pay a "Aurora Safari" so they can drive you out of the city (it is forbidden to walk out of the city without a riffle due to the polar bears, which would be happy to eat you).

More details about "Where, when and what" on this great page: 


For the ones not ready to pay 1000 SEK (100€) for a "Northern Light Safari", you can also look by yourself for these Aurora, but you will have to walk a little further from your porch (YES! We heard some other tourists upset because they did not see the northern lights while we did. We asked them where they went to look for these, they answered they just walked out of their cabin...).

1. Go away from the lights of the city. You can spot a good place to watch the northern lights during the day time. The best is to go up a hill or mountain out of the city where no light pollution can disturb your Northern Light hunt.

2. Make sure that you go there with a good weather forecast. No clouds and no full moon will increase your chances to see the lights.

3. Check out the Aurora Forecast (free Smartphone or Ipad app called "Aurora Forecast"). You can easily see your chances to see the Aurora. You can see an exemple of one of the app' screen here below.

4. When you're on your watching spot, look for the North (if you're located South of the Aurora ring: in Sweden, Norway, Finland for instance) and be patient.

It can happen that the Aurora is SO strong that you actually don't have to look for it. But it can also be that it isn't so strong or that weather conditions aren't the best, so you'll have to be patient and wait for the clouds to move, and for the northern lights to appear.

The aurora is NOT always as green as shown on the pictures. The long-time exposure on the camera enhances the color of the northern light. Don't expect to see very strong green lights in the sky, in case of a very bright night, the northern light can be white (kind of greenish). But of course, it happens that the Aurora Borealis show off very green (we did see it!).


+ The first night in Björkliden, we were almost giving up, waiting for the northern lights. Until Alberto took a picture from the sky, and could see some green beams. Some seconds later we could hear our friends screaming "AHHH, HERE, THERE'S NORTHERN LIGHTS, AHHH", and continued to scream out of happiness... We were completely thrilled, since the chance to see the northern lights this evening were quite poor.
+ The last night in Kiruna, the sky was clear and the chances to see the aurora were high. We saw the lights dancing non-stop for two hours and even saw a huge (yes huge) falling star, falling in slow motion... (still mysterious to us). This was a magical moment, we were so happy to see the aurora so intensively green and dancing slowly in the sky. Below is the time-lapse video made by my friend Alberto: (upcoming)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A weekend in Istanbul

(I travelled there in November 2013)


R A I N - D A R K N E S S  &  W A N D E R L U S T

Well, I really needed to satisfy my urge to travel, especially as we started to have bad weather in Sweden!  First idea in mind: let's check all the flights offers from Gothenburg to any other other city for the next weekend. "Madrid, too expensive, Tallinn, interesting, Copenhagen, cheap cheap but already know the city, Helsinki, maybe too cold, Vienna, too expensive, Istanbul, 125€ direct return ticket...BINGO!" I booked the flight for the following weekend and was really lucky with the weather!



  • Istanbul is huge. Like super duper huge. Two days and a half are definitely not enough and if you have the chance to take more days off from work, do it.
A piece of Istanbul from the clouds

  • Check out a great overview of monuments opening hours in Istanbul: here.
  • Check out the real time mosque praying time: here.
  • Mosque dress code: hide your shoulders, trouser/skirt below knee level, cover your hair if you're female (they give veil at the entrance) and take off your shoes (they give plastic bag for your shoes at the entrance).
  • Be open minded and nice. If you're not used to, it can be very surprising or strange if someone comes to you in the street just to say good morning, start a conversation or trying to help... But in Turkey that's normal. People are naturally very social and kind - and this feels so nice! But around all the tourist area, they'll tell you that you look like an angel coming from paradise to sell you carpets and tea ;-) 


 First evening, I was wandering alone on Istiklal Caddesi and waiting to meet a Couchsurfer. An old man just started to talk to me in the street "Are you lost? - no just walking - Can I walk with you? - Hum ok!". We finished on a coffee terrace drinking tea and coffee. He tried to explain me the Byzantine Empire history with his very limited English/German. He read my fortune in my coffee and said "Everything normal...hum...and a horse!" (I still don't know what he meant). As he understood that my friend was late at the meeting point, he stayed with me to keep me company. The culture in Turkey is so different from northern Europe. People are really social and genuinely kind.

On the ferry to the Asian continent. I ran to have a place against the fence of the upper deck. But some kids started to sneak in front of me. I was a little bit annoyed as I wanted to take pictures comfortably. The ferry left the peer, then something magic happened. Seagulls were following the boats: mothers will give pieces of bread to the children, the children will throw them, seagulls will catch the bread in the air, and fathers+tourists (I was probably the only one) will take pictures. This was just beautiful.


This is a two days and a half itinerary. I arrived a Friday early evening and left Monday morning from Ataturk airport.


Get to the city: you can take the metro then the tram to go to the city centre. One ticket ("jeton") costs 3TL. I stayed at Big Apple hostel in a 14 dorms room (oh yeah) that I would definitely recommend you. It was really central in Sultanahmet district and walking distance from all the most famous monuments. They have a roof top with view on the Bosphorus and the blue mosque. They serve free breakfast in the morning and free tea anytime. The staff was amazingly kind and very helpful. This was really a great value for money!

Get a map from your hotel/hostel and start your first visit:
  • Take the tram to Karaköy. From there, you can start your walk to Istiklal Caddesi avenue. It is a very dynamic street with shops and restaurants. The old red tramway is still in service in this street.  On your way up there, you will see the Galata Tower that opens until 8pm. Take the chance to climb those stairs and admire Istanbul panorama view by night. 
  • I had the chance to spend this evening with a Couchsurfer that showed me the surrounding of Beyoglu district (above) and shared with me some drinks. Then drove me to Arnavutköy district, between the two massive bridges. This is a non-touristy area where you can enjoy fish restaurants and a nice walk next to the fishermen, along the Bosphorus.


Start your day early at around 9 am and put your flat shoes on... This is gonna be a long and exhausting day!
  • Morning: start with the Blue Mosque before the praying time. Then the Topkapi Palace, don't hesitate to pay a little bit more for an audio guide (you'll need to give your passport as a caution or 100TL). It's worth it.
  • Afternoon: Walk in the direction of the Grand Bazaar. There's plenty of restaurants around. Continue your route in direction to Istanbul University, which is on the way of Süleymaniye Mosque. From there, have a walk to the Spice Market
  • Evening: enjoy a diner with traditional live music and dance at Arasta Bazaar. I was really exhausted after that long day, I just had a power nap and few drinks and hookah (narguilé) with other travellers.


This is an easy and relaxed day, you can start your day around 10.
  • Morning: take the time to visit the majestic Hagia Sophia and again, pay some extra for the audio guide which is really worth it. Cross the street and visit the Basilica Cistern, there is actually not so much to see, but it is so beautiful ;-) don't try the audio guide, they're repeating what the signs say. I just went back to the hostel to relax, print my plane ticket, write postal cards and eat. But instead, you can visit Taksim park or the Archeology Museum or walk along the Kennedy Caddesi where all the fish restaurants are.
  • Afternoon: From Eminonü tram stop, you can catch a ferry for the Asian Continent. It costs 3TL to Üskudar. There's really a lot of different boats. Just ask some locals, they'll be happy to help. Don't forget to take a map from the Information point at the peer on the Asian side. Wander in the streets and markets. I really loved that place because there're were more locals and less touts. 
  • Evening: Go back to the European side and take the tram to Cemberlitas and treat yourself with a traditional Turkish bath (count between circa 56TL for self service to about 150TL for the luxurious package). Enjoy your last diner and go to bed early to not miss your plane the next morning! (I went clubbing in Beyoglu district and the kind hostel staff woke me up for the plane... Then you need to know the taxi costs about 15TL)

I hope it helped! Let me know if you have any question :-)

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

A weekend in Paris

(I was born an grew up 20 min from there)

I am from France, Paris, big city! I really like this city, as much as I like London or Berlin (but I don't know those city as good as Paris). The reason is there's always something going on, always something new to discover, to learn or someone new to meet.

Also, don't worry about French people not being able to speak English. If you need to ask your way, just ask to someone around his thirties or below - and be kind  :-)
In the restaurant, if you are in the touristy area, I believe that menu must be translated. So don't worry!

Put yourself in the French and Parisian mood before your trip, and watch some classics like Amélie Poulain or Midnight in Paris.


Winter in Paris change from years to others and weeks to weeks... So please, check the weather prior to your trip! If you're lucky, it will be sunny and dry. If you're unlucky, it will be rainy with icy roads.

Don't forget to bring:

A map of Paris (where you can actually read the names of the streets!) and it would be perfect if you would get a Metro map with.
Hooded coat (instead of an umbrella), comfy shoes and a bag that you can zip and keep an eye on (oh yeah, many pickpockets).

What to eat there:

  • Crêpe in a Crêperie (salted and sweet crepes served with French cider)
  • Raclette (OMG this is SO good: difference types of ham, potato and melted cheese on the top. Sounds simple, but it is amazingly good. Book a restaurant in advance for a raclette)
  • Magret de canard (duck)
  • Escargot (snails)
  • Moules marinière (for the mussel lovers, you will get a lot served with French fries)
  • Crème brulée (dessert)
  • Macaron (sweet)


This guide is for people who have never been to Paris and only planned for a short weekend. There are so much to see that it is hard to plan when we only have two days and a half in one of the biggest European city. So here we go: let's say that you would arrive on a Friday afternoon an leave a Sunday evening:


If you arrive from Roissy Charles de Gaule, Orly or Beauvais, please count on 1-2h from the moment you step out of the plane until you checked in your hotel.

Then you can start the walking tour#1 in the Montmartre district (follow the map):

  • Take the Metro to Pigalle. In front of the metro stop, in Boulevard de Clichy, there is a supermarket (called Monop'). You can buy some fresh beers or wine there.
  • Walk up the hill to the Sacré-Coeur. It is really worth it: the church is amazingly beautiful and the view is stunning!
  • There is often street musician down the stairs of the Sacré Coeur and you can see groups of friends, couples or tourists sitting on the stairs and listening to the music. If the weather allows it (not too cold, no rain, no snow), have also a sit, open your bottle of wine or beer. Enjoy the moment!
  • Walk in the direction of Place du Tertre. I love this area, it is so typical, cute, romantic, beautiful but/and of course with lots of tourist. Chose one the the restaurant and have diner there.
  • Then walk back down to Boulevard de Clichy (or you can also take the funicular).  When you're down, take the right and you will see the famous Moulin Rouge.

You can finally go back to your hotel. Saturday will be a long day!


Walking tour #2 (check this map, you don't have to do it in this order, feel free to cherry pick). I don't mention any restaurant or café, so please add lunch/diner break within this itinerary. Of course, you don't have to walk all the time, so I added the metro stop name for each point. One of my Swedish friend came with me to Paris this last September. She did this in 1 day without any metro: it's feasible but without any indoor visit.

  • Take the métro to Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre. The museum opens at 9am till 5am on Saturday. 
  • Then, take a walk on the Avenue de l'Opéra (or metro Opera). At the end of the avenue, you will see the beautiful Opéra de Paris.
  • Continue your walk to Boulevard Haussmann to the Galleries Lafayette (metro Havre Caumartin), it is the most famous and one of the oldest shopping gallery in Paris. During Christmas time, have a look at the special window display (if not too crowded with kids!). Please enter the Galleries Lafayette and admire the Art Nouveau style and the amazing glass dome.
  • Find the rue Tronchet (or metro Madeleine) and walk to the Paroisse de la Madeleine (Neoclassic church). 
  • Continue on rue Royale. You will arrive on Place de la Concorde (metro Concorde). This is one of the most beautiful square in Paris: the view on the obelisk, the fountain, the Palais Bourbon and the Eiffel Tower far away.
  • You can start to walk up to the Champs Elysées, the most famous shopping street in Paris. During Christmas time, there will be a Christmas Market there (where you can also grab some traditional food). 
  • At the top of the Champs Elysées stands the Arc the Triomphe (Metro Étoile or George V). You can actually visit it and go on the top of it. It is really worth it (and the line is shorter than the Eiffel Tower!). It opens from 10am until 10.30pm.
  • You can walk the very long avenue Kléber or take the metro to Trocadero. Here it is: la Tour Eiffel. You have to know that the line is really long to go on the Eiffel Tower. So plan the timing if you want to visit it.
  • In this district, you will see the Hôtel des Invalides : this is an impressive huge monument which used to be an hospital and church. This is today mainly a museum. (metro École Militaire or la Tour-Maubourg)
  • Walk toward the quay Quai d'Orsay and walk along it to the direction of the Musée d'Orsay. You will see on this promenade the traditional second-hand book sellers that we call "les bouquinistes de Paris". These Bouquinistes are one of the UNESCO world heritage.
  • Take the bridge Pont Saint-Michel which will lead you to the island l'Île de la Cité. There you'll see the majestic cathedral Notre Dame de Paris (metro Cité).
Exhausting day, isn't it? 


Pick up one of these activities (among some more...):

  • Shopping in the business district (RER/Metro: La Défense). This is in the very close suburb of Paris, where we hide (almost) all of our skyscrapers. You'll find interesting architecture there and also a huge mall called Les Quatres Temps.
  • Catacombs of Paris (10am-4pm, book in advance)
  • Château de Versailles (9am-5pm). Please notice that this is out of Paris and you have to stop at the RER stop Versailles-Chantier. From the center of Paris, it would take 1 hour. Be careful with the timing of your plane!
  • Morning sleep and brunch. Here a selection of restaurants.

So next time you come, we'll take it easy :-)
Hope this article helped!
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Those travel quotes

(Original picture found on, edited by myself)

(Original picture found on, edited by myself)

(this is me in Montenegro, edited by myself)

And you? Which travel quote inspires you?
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Monday, November 4, 2013

A weekend in Munich

(I used to live there back in 2010-2011)

First, I have to say: I LOVE GERMANY! I love the country, the people, the food (yes I do!) and the language (yes I do!). I first moved to Germany to a very small town for one year of studies (and parties). But a year later I realised that I did not improve my German so much and I was quite frustrated with that. So I decided to go back to Germany for a six months internship: I moved to Munich in October 2010

In only 6 months I had a bunch of visitors: family, friends and couchsurfers. I showed them the city, brought them to some beer fest, and showed them my favourite food! 

Here are my recommendations for a weekend in Munich, hope you'll find them useful!


When to go?
I would say anytime. There's a plenty of indoor and outdoors activities. In good or bad weather, you can enjoy Munich. To be honest, my favourite season would be the spring. But I had visitors during winter as well, and they loved it too!
You have to know that during Easter, Münich is very serious with the Good Friday (commemoration of Jesus Christ crucifixion). From thursday at midnight, it is forbidden to dance in clubs (so your favourite club will become a jazz club for example) and there might be no music in your favourite pub!

For the beer lovers

Octoberfest: end September until beginning of October. If you come for this event, make sure that you go to the Wiesn (U-Bahn: Theresienwiese) in the morning (around 10.00am). This is a very crowded event and if you don't come in advance you might wait 1-2h in front of a tent or just not get into a tent. In any case, if you haven't booked a table, you will need to wait outside the tent approximately 1h.

Starkbierfest: end of March (Starkbier = strong beer 8-9%). This one takes place directly at the brewery. I would definitely recommend the Paulaner Bräuhaus (Kapuzinerplatz 5, U-Bahn Goetheplatz). This one is less crowded and you'll have more chance to sit at a table. Come sometime between 11.00am-01.00pm

Otherwise, you have plenty of local breweries where you can have a taste of the German Bierfest: Hofbrauhaus, Paulaner, Löwenbraukeller...

Maß: glass of 1L (to pronounce Mass)
Halb: glass of 1/2L

You will often hear: "Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit". Prosit (or Prost) is the German word for cheers. Prosit is a latin word that means "may it be beneficial". Gemütlichkeit is a famous for being hard to translate. It means to be in a cheerful mood, cosy and warm, be in harmony and in the pleasant atmosphere. So when you'll hear the Germans singing "ein Prosit, ein Proooooosit der Gemütlichkeit!", it means that they are cheering for a cosy, cheerful, harmonious, pleasant mood!

For my foodie fellows

This is just my favourite in Bavaria (they have some more specialities):
  • Weiss Wurst with Bretzel and Senf (sweet mustard). This is a typical Bavarian breakfast. Real German will eat it with a Weiss Bier (white beer).
  • Knödel: ball made of bread or Bretzel or potatoe... very simple but I love it with brown sauce
  • Schweinshaxe: roasted knuckle of pork. This  is good but you need to have a big appetite!

Don't forget in your bag:
a map and a pocket dictionary if you don't speak German (not all the menus are translated).


Here are my suggestion if you would arrive on the Friday evening and leave on Sunday evening.

Enjoy your evening at the Hofbrauhaus brewery (Address: Platzl 9 and it closes at 11.30pm) and have a taste of the traditional food and their famous beer!
Have a good sleep, there will be a lot of walking the following day...

Let's start the walking visit and don't forget your map!
  • Take the U-Bahn to Marienplatz and enjoy the view on the beautiful gothic city hall. In December, there will be the Christmas market around the square.
  • Then walk 5 min to the Viktualienmarkt. It is a big food market with approimatly 140 stalls! I recommend you to have your breakfast/brunch there (Weiss Wurst mit Weiss Bier bitte!).
  • Enjoy the market and walk to the direction of the Peterskirche church (Rindermarkt 1). They have a tower where you can enjoy an aerial view of Munich center
  • Walk 10 min to the Frauenkirche (Frauenplatz 12), biggest cathedral in Munich and a Bavarian symbol. 
  • Walk 6 min to Odeonsplatz. On the way, you can stop at Dallmayr (Dienerstrasse 14-15) which is a famous German Delikatessen shop where you can also have lunch (not the cheapest, more for business). When you arrive at Odeonsplatz, visit the beautiful baroque church Theatinerkirche (the yellow one) and enter the beautiful Hofgarten on the other side of the square. 
  • Courage! Walk 20 min to the Biergarten at the Englischer Garten (ask to the locals where the "Chinesischen Turm", Chinese tower is). It is a beautiful park famous for its beer garden. You will finally be able to sit, eat and drink!

In case of bad weather, I would recommend you to skip the two parks (Hofgarten & Englischer Garten) and try one of these Museums:

  • Old (Alte), New (neu) or der Moderne Pinakothek (it closes at 6pm). They are nearby the Odeonsplatz. 
Go back to your hotel/hostel/couch to rest a little bit. For the evening I would recommend you to eat at my favourite traditional restaurant: Wirtshaus Zur Brez'n (Leopoldstrasse 72, U-Bahn Münchner Freiheit).


I love sundays because of the sunday's brunch! So relax and go for a brunch: here a list.
If you have the time before you leave the city, go and visit the BMW museum (it closes at 6pm). You will find it at the Olympic Park (U-Bahn: Olympiazentrum). This is my favourite automotive museum: you get the history of the company but also technical development! You can listen and compare the motors sounds (how cool is that?!).

This is a long description for a short weekend, but I hope it inspired you to plan your weekend in Munich!

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

3 days in Sicily

(I travelled there in July 2013)

Let's picture it like this: you are sitting on your office chair, day dreaming about your next holiday or about the last holiday you had. Then you think about your plans for this weekend: nothing thrilling. You open an internet page and go on your favourite low-cost flight website and check all the possible destinations for the upcoming weekend. In parallel, you have google map open (I don't know how good is your geography, but mine used to be bad with Ryanair airports cities...). Here we go: SICILY - booked.


How to travel there:

I would definitely advise you to rent a car for this trip (only if you plan to visit many cities). The roads are great and landscapes are amazing! We had a golf cabriolet for ~200€ for three days.

For all my foodies friends:
(these tips come from my Italian friends)
  • Pasta alla Norma (pasta with tomatoes, eggplant, ricotta)
  • Involtini di pesce spada (rolled grilled swordfish)
  • Pesce spada alla griglia (grilled swordfish)
  • Arancini (fried balls of rice with bolognese inside): this was my favourite! 
  • Cannoli (crunchy cylinder filled with sweet ricotta and pistachio) 
  • Cassata (ricotta dessert)
  • Granita al caffé con panna (coffe granita with whipped cream)
  • Parmigiana (baked cake with tomatoes, cheese, eggplant)
  • Ice cream in a brioche. I haven't tried it, but heard it was worth it!
If you stop in San Vito Lo Capo, you should try their couscous, this their speciality. If you stop to Palermo, go have lunch at Focacceria San Francesco (via Paternostro 58) for any kind of street food. You can also stop at Bar Alba in Palermo (pastry shop) and get a Cannolo and Arancina (I heard they are the best in town!). In Mount Etna, you should try have pistachio, italians say they are the best in Europe!

Don't forget to pack:

Wind coat for mount Etna
Swimming shoes (some beaches can be really rocky)
Driving licence and download a map on your phone or navi system


Trip Summary: Trapani airport - San Vito Lo Capo (best beach) - Palermo (capital city) - Monreale (beauty) -Taormina (beauty) - Mount Etna (must do) - Trapani airport.

We actually arrived the Thursday, laste in the night and we directly drove to San Vito Lo Capo and stayed there for the night. The drive between Trapani to San Vito Lo Capo is 1 hour.
Morning: breakfast and enjoy the beach at San Vito Lo Capo
Afternoon: drive to Palermo where we had lunch and got lost in the streets. Please stop by Monreale (20min from Palermo) to see the amazing golden church.
Evening: we drove to Taormina and arrived there late in the evening, and stayed there for the night.



Morning: Mount Etna. Please check in advance the time schedule if you want to do a trek to the summit (link). We did not have time to do a trekking. We drove to Refugio Sapenzia and took a cable car from there. Then a jeep drove us up to 2900m. Security personal is there to show you the way around the craters. (cable car + jeep is around 50€).
I heard that in winter you can ski on Mt. Etna and then have a swim at the beach (doesn't it sound awesome!?).

Afternoon: we planned to go to the Alcantra Gorges, but instead we went down to the amazing beach Isola Bella.

Evening: Taormina by night

Morning breakfast in Taormina, then we drove back to catch our plane in Trapani.

I hope my advises helped. But I would recommend to stay in Sicily at least a week if you can. The island is so big and beautiful. For 3 more days, I would have visited the village where the Godfather scenes were shot and also drive on the southern coast and see the roman vestige.

Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

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