Posted by: barnesfest | January 6, 2013

A dirty little secret about Twitter…

Here’s a secret no one is going to tell you about Twitter. Most of your “followers” aren’t actually following what you’re doing. They probably followed you and forgot about you. This is just not the way people use Twitter. The nature of the platform makes it a bit overwhelming once you start following multiple people, the stream of tweets becomes enormous, and much of it is irrelevant content, so people stop paying attention.

So what’s a marketer to do? Don’t throw in the towel just yet, it’s easier than you think to reach an audience and get them to pay attention. Use hashtags! Yes, those strange words that appear on a tweet preceded by #. Most people who are on Twitter will follow a hashtag stream to hear what other people are saying about things they care about. Because I used a hashtag, a tweet I wrote during the Amazing Race finale was re-tweeted 74 times by people I didn’t even know.

Want to see hashtags in action? Search #Patriots on Twitter to see what people are saying about the New England Patriots football team. You should also notice that not only are people tweeting with the hashtag #patriots, but there are plenty more: #patriotnation,  #superbowl, #nfl, etc.  Smart marketers that they are, the Patriots themselves have even gotten in on this stream, tweeting offers to buy playoff tickets with these hashtags. By doing this same type of search for your own product or business, you can find those valuable hashtags as well. And just like with search engine optimization, the longer tail your hashtags are, the more qualified your leads will be.

Here’s another example of how it could work. My travel buddies and I have just decided to take a trip to Istanbul this spring. I went to Twitter and searched “#travel #istanbul” to get some travel information. If you were a company selling trips to Turkey, guidebooks or excursions, wouldn’t you want to show up in that stream? Even better if you show up in that stream without an offer to buy your product and just some helpful news on traveling in Istanbul, so I’m aware of who you are, and that’s the online equivalent of I’m already in your store when I’m ready to buy!

Posted by: barnesfest | November 12, 2012

When it comes to fans, go for quality over quantity

It can’t be said enough that any good social media campaign has to first start with a goal. Good goals for your brand could be creating awareness, increasing customer loyalty or driving traffic to your website. Social media can even be a good vehicle for promoting a new product or a discount sale. Unfortunately, I see too many marketers focused only on the number of “likes” or “fans”. That’s an easy thing to measure, and so I think a lot of people gravitate toward it as a metric, but it’s not necessarily an indication of success.

Yes, Lady Gaga has 31 million twitter followers, so she must be doing something right. But is that what your brand needs? In one of my more recent B2B marketing roles,  I had a specific product that only about 1,000 people in the entire world would be interested in buying. My twitter account had 130  followers, but they were all people that could potentially buy my product. How did I know that? Here are a few key indicators:

  • I read their profiles. Did their job descriptions match a user of my product? Were they interested in topics that pertained to my brand?
  • Were they re-tweeting my content?
  • Were they clicking on my links? By using a url shortener like bit.ly, I could easily see if they were listening to what I was saying.

For me, the answer to the above questions was yes. I was trying to create brand affinity and establish myself as a thought leader in my particular industry, and those metrics indicated I was successful.

How did I develop that audience? I grew my following largely by running a contest. This can be another booby trap for marketers. Give away something for free, like an iPad or a Kindle and it can be an inexpensive and quick way to grow your numbers. But it can also lead to an audience of people that just want free stuff and would never actually pay for your product. How do you avoid that trap? Give away something that would only appeal to your customers. In my case, it was a paid trip to a conference that would only appeal to people in our industry. Tailor it to your audience. Trying to reach teachers? Give away something that can only be used in a classroom, like a smartboard. Do you sell pet products? Give away dog or cat treats. Social media can be very effective in that sense because people are likely to share this kind of information and most people have a social circle that includes people that share their professional and or personal interests,  so your audience finds like minded customers for you.

I think all marketers now agree we need to use data to measure our success, but even more importantly, we need to use the right data, or it is all just noise.

How are you measuring success in your social media campaigns?

Posted by: barnesfest | August 22, 2012

How Foursquare Can Help Your Business

I will admit that I’m a social media geek, and I’m what you could call an “early adopter”, meaning that I like to try the latest and greatest social media tools just for fun. So I’ve been using Foursquare for over a year now. Foursquare allows you to use your smart phone (like an iphone or blackberry) to “Check-in” at a venue.

You can connect with friends who can see where you are, and if you check in more than any other person at a certain location, you become the “mayor”. In most cases, being the mayor gets you nothing other than bragging rights, yet over 6 million people are using Foursquare.
However, that is not enough to make foursquare more than a passing fad. In order for geo-location apps like it or its competitors (Gowalla, Yelp) to have longevity they need to provide a real benefit to the user. Without offering something of value, the novelty wears off and people won’t come back. It needs to provide consistent benefits and reasons for people to use it, and this is just what is starting to happen.

A few months ago while visiting my father in Flemington, New Jersey, I had to do some shopping at the mall. To pass the time while waiting in a long line at Kohl’s, I checked-in. One of the best features about foursquare is that when you check in, you see “tips” or “specials” provided by other users or businesses nearby. In this case, a special at Chili’s next door — check-in there, and I would get free chips and salsa. I was with my dad, who is a really picky eater, and hates just about every restaurant he goes to, but on the other hand, he’s pretty frugal, and never passes up on a good discount. So we decided to go there for lunch. And to my surprise, he loved there burgers. Now we go there every time I come to visit. They just scored a new loyal customer!

A few weeks later, my dad and I took a trip to San Diego, and were looking for a place to have dinner near our hotel. Now, I had a reason to check-in on foursquare. I wasn’t just trying to shout out to friends that I was at the Holiday Inn, but I knew foursquare would show me names of restaurants in the area. Another great feature is that it lets you see reviews and tips from other people about each place. Based on what I read, I picked Miguel’s Cocina. and when I walked in, I already knew where to ask to sit (on the patio) and to order the jalapeno cheese dip that everyone raved about. Another great meal courtesy of foursquare.

This story is anecdotal, for sure a nay-sayer can argue, and for sure its just a snapshot of one user’s experience. However, when 6 million people start to see it the same way, its going to become mainstream. And the smart businesses will start to get on board now and will be well positioned to ride the growth. Foursquare’s users grew 3400% last year, an astounding statistic, and who wouldn’t want to get on that bandwagon?

Posted by: barnesfest | June 22, 2012

How to start using Twitter for your business

Gone are the days when you could just take out an ad and start talking about yourself. Social media tools like Twitter make the conversations two-way now and you need to know how to thrive in that environment. Here’s my step by step guide to get your company started on Twitter. My first advice: Be patient — this is about building relationships so it can’t happen overnight. Don’t skip ahead, or you’ll miss the whole poin

  1. Have a goal

This is the most important step in getting started in social media. Know your objective. And here’s a tip: driving more traffic to your website is NOT a good goal. You could drive thousands of people to your website, and then what? Your company probably isn’t in the business of having people look at your home page. You sell a product, or a service, or want to change the world. So your goal should somehow relate to that. Do you want to:

  • find new customers?
  • engage more with your existing customers so that they remain loyal to you?
  • change a perception that you offer a poor quality product?
  • Improve customer service?

These are all excellent reasons for getting on Twitter, and very achievable goals.

2. Understand the space

Twitter is like one big party, but like every social situation there are rules of conduct. If you were invited to a dinner party, you wouldn’t walk in, start handing out business cards and ask people to buy your product (well, hopefully not, if you want to get invited back).

The best way to understand is to watch other people.  There’s a lot of shorthand (here’s a primer on the codes). There are lots of resources to help you understand what’s going on – mashable is a great one. Start following people and watch what they do – how did Ashton Kutcher get almost 12 million people to follow him? What does Zappos tweet that makes them so successful on line? Observe how they interact with their followers. Which of your competitors are tweeting and who are they talking to?

3. Listen to who is talking about you

Download Tweet Deck and use their search feature or use Twitter Search to find the conversations that are already happening about you, your products or your industry. But keep in mind, you should go fishing where the fish actually are. If your customers aren’t on Twitter, it just may not be for you. (Remember rule #1 –  you have a goal.)

4. Start interacting

Talk with other people, not at them. Re-tweet. Start following leaders in your industry. Follow your customers, especially the ones who are blogging about you. Reply to them and relate with them.

Here’s a great example of how to do that:

I tweeted about a great meal I had at a restaurant in LA at The Grove shopping complex (just because the cheese Fondue was amazing).  The Grove saw my tweet – and replied “Thanks – Great to hear it!”, just letting me know that they heard me and appreciated that I was promoting their product. Their followers could see them interact with me, and it let me know they were on Twitter (which I wasn’t aware of). They do a great job of balancing self-promotion and interaction.

5. Offer content

Be cautious here – there’s a trick. You have to keep it interesting. Just like the guy who walks into the party and tries to sell you something, it gets old pretty quick. You need to offer content, not just self promotion. Offer information. Be human. Make jokes. Don’t tell people what you ate for lunch. Think about the content you are posting. Would you want to read it yourself? Will others want to read it? More importantly, after they read it, will they want to share it with their friends because it is informative, insightful or just plain hilarious? If not, then don’t post it.

6. Build a following

Make sure that you integrate all of your platforms together: Tweet about your blog. Post on Facebook that you are on Twitter (and vice versa). Set up widgets on your homepage so that people know they can start following you.

7. Start promoting yourself

Now its time. People are interested in you and they are listening. If you’re having a sale, launching a new product, or having an event, tweet about it with a link to the site where they can find more information. People want to do business with companies and people they like.

8. Repeat

This is a cycle, not a list. You need to still be doing steps 1 -7 all at the same time, in combination. Once you’ve built up your following, you’re well positioned to use Twitter as a part of your overall business initiatives.

Like any relationship, a following on Twitter takes time to build, improve and maintain but as a tool to help you accomplish your goals, it can be invaluable.

Posted by: barnesfest | May 11, 2012

My Top Resources for Understanding Social Media Marketing

People are always asking me how to get started learning about social media. The great thing about getting an education in social media marketing is that there are a ton of resources out there and they majority are completely free. Except for a couple of the books I mention, following blogs or Twitter don’t cost anything. However, there is so much information out there, it can be hard to navigate. So I’ve boiled it down to my top resources for those who are just getting started, or who are looking to keep up on the latest:

1)      Subscribe to Mashable’s blog. If you only do one thing, make it a visit to Mashable.com. It’s the premier resource for all things social media. You can subscribe via RSS or follow them on Twitter.

2)      Read David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”. This was written a couple of years ago, but it was the most innovative look at the changing face of marketing, and still rings true. In my opinion, most other social media books out there are just a re-iteration of Scott’s messaging, so start with the original. He’s also got a follow up called “Real Time Marketing and PR” that is more recent, which is also a good, and quick, read.

3)      Listen to Marketing Over Coffee. This is a free podcast, available on itunes. 30 minutes a week and you get Chris Penn and John Wall’s expert marketing opinions on the latest marketing trends. I listen to it on my way to work, the podcast format makes it easy to multi-task.

4)      Join Twitter (if you haven’t already) and follow these people:

a.      @ScottMonty. Scott is the head of social media at Ford Motor Company, and he successfully used it to transform Ford’s public image. He’s also a fellow Boston University Alum, and I can personally attest to the fact that he’s a great guy. But you don’t have to take my word for it, he’s also often quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

b.      @broganmedia Chris Brogan is one of the first people who was really able to learn how to profit from social media, and he is a good model to follow. He’s also written a great book called Trust Agents.

c.       @MarketingProfs Ann Handley just wrote a book called “Content Rules” in collaboration with @cc_chapman and posts great links to articles and other resources

5)       “Like” other companies on Facebook. Start with Starbucks. With over 23 million fans, they are obviously doing something right. – they are one of the most engaging brands out there. You might not like their coffee, and your business model is probably different, but see how they interact: a combination of fun and interesting posts with some soft sell messaging, and it’s a recipe for success. Then start taking a look at other successful companies in your industry, and learn from what they are doing.

6)      Get out and network. There are lots of free and low cost events that are chances to meet other marketers, network and hear real life stories of how people are using this new media. If you are in the Boston area – 2 sites to check out for upcoming events are:

a.       Boston Tweet-up shows a calendar of events related to social media:bostontweetup.com/calendar/

b.      MITX is a professional organization for internet marketing, and they host some very informative events. Check them out at www.mitx.org

There are plenty more resources out there, but I wanted to keep it to a manageable list, so I’ll stop here. I’m sure there are some that are your favorites…so leave a comment and let me know what you’d add to the list!

I hope that reading this blog post will be a waste of your time, and you’ll never need this advice. But, in case your wallet or purse ever gets lost or stolen as mine was on a recent trip to Vegas, I’m passing along some advice I wish I’d followed.  I’ve travelled all over the world, and am usually vigilant about protecting my stuff, but somehow I let my guard down this time because I figured it was just a domestic trip. Follow these tips for a trip across the ocean, or across the street…

 

-          Carry More than one credit card, and stash them in different places.

I always put my cash and credit cards into 2 different places (like my purse and carry-on). That way if one of them gets lost or stolen, I still have the other.

Don’t carry more than 3 or 4 cards, though, because if you do lose them, it will be hard remember what you had. If you’re like me, you fall for all those discounts for opening a store credit card (I have them all from Saks to Sears). Thankfully, I left them home and only had a couple of calls to make. Don’t worry about keeping the actual credit card numbers, when you call to report your card lost, the bank can look it up with your personal information. If you do find the card stolen, call your credit card company right away. In the time it took me to get back to my hotel and make calls for 3 credit cards, fraudulent charges were already made on one of the cards.

 

-          Email a copy of your passport and drivers license to yourself.

You can access a copy from anywhere you have internet access. Some people will argue that having this information in cyberspace can lead to identity theft, but in my opinion, not very likely. Since I was flying domestically, it was surprisingly easy to get on the plane with a sob story and no ID…but I wouldn’t want to risk that again. And if you are travelling internationally, it will save you a lot of hassle with the embassy to get a replacement passport.

 

-          Keep a list of important phone numbers somewhere other than you phone.

A handwritten list, in your email, in an old school address book, anywhere. This is the hardest information to recover. I was trying to get in touch with my neighbor or my cat sitter, who both had keys to my condo, so that they could send me a copy of my passport but I didn’t have their phone numbers. I googled the cat sitter’s employer and called them to ask for his cell phone number. They must have thought I was stalking him and wouldn’t give it to me. Save yourself the trouble and store a copy of your numbers!

 

-          Save receipts for high ticket items.

They didn’t just steal my purse, it was my leather, Michael Kors purse. Thankfully, I am a pack rat and keep receipts for anything over $100, but it came in handy when filing an insurance claim. I was able to produce receipts for my phone, camera, even my Jimmy Choo shoes (which were also unfortunately in my purse after a night of dancing) so I’ll get the money back from insurance now that I can prove their worth.

 

-          Take care of business, then go enjoy the rest of your vacation.

This is hard, because personally, I just wanted to mope, but once all the credit card companies were called, police report filed, cell phone cancelled, I kept my plans and had a fantastic dinner with friends Aureole that night. Now I’ll look back on my trip to Vegas as a fun celebration with great friends, not just as the time I lost my wallet.

 

 

Brazil is alive with color, music…people. I think that’s why I liked it so much…buildings are brightly painted, but downtown Manaus was a little sad because many of the beautiful old buildings, built when the Europeans were here during the rubber boom are now abandoned and covered with graffiti. In the mid 1800′s they discovered rubber here, and there was a boom, akin to the gold rush. The sad part of it is that the indigenous people were pratically enslaved, treated poorly, beaten if they didn’t produce enough rubber. They had a monopoly on rubber here until early 1900′s when a British botanist smuggled rubber tree seeds out of the country. The British brought the plant to Malaysia, and they bred a bigger better rubber tree plant, arranged in plantation rows (as opposed to growing wild in Brazil). That combined with cheaper labor and basically decimated the Brazilian rubber industry. In 1945 invented synthetic rubber was invented, so its all a moot point now.

On our 2nd day here, we took a smaller boat to cruise up a tributary of the Amazon called he Rio Negro. The Rio Negro, which is black, and the Amazon, which is color of cafe latte, meet but they don’t mix because the waters come from different sources and have different speeds, density and acid content. It’s an amazing site.
This goes on for about 8 km (about 5 miles) before the water actually combines.
We stopped at a small island village, took a long (and slippery) hike through the jungle. Here’s my dad on the bridge we took from the ship into the small village.
Our hike took us deep into the jungle, under huge banyan trees.
We saw giant lily pads.
And a sloth WAY up in the trees – good thing I’ve got a powerful zoom lens!
We spent some time at the local village. The houses are all built on stilts to protect them from the Amazon floods.
This year they are having record water levels both high and low. When we were there, it was the dry season and very low. In the photo below, you can see on the trees where the water line was, the area was flooded during the wet season. It is not unusual that the highest of the high levels are accompanied by the lowest of the low levels.
And back on our boat, at the end of the tour.
On the way back our guide told about his Christmas plans.  He was taking off that night to go up to meet his family. The trip takes about 2-3 days, on a boat was the same size as the one we were on. But everyone brings their hammock, food, drink and provisions for a big party up the river! His father made a rule (he had 20-40 kids, not all from the same mother) that all had to gather yearly at Christmas for a big celebration, and whoever doesn’t attend has to pay the next year, dinner for 1000 people!
In the afternoon, we went to zoo. A sad way to see so many animals in cages, but probably the only chance we’ll have to see some of this wildlife like jaguars, ocelots, panther, macaws and parrots up close.
Posted by: barnesfest | March 30, 2010

Party Brazilian Style!

The sleepy little town of Parintins, Brazil, comes alive once every June as the Boi Bumba festival begins. This is a party 2nd in size only to Rio’s Carnival.  People come from all over Brazil, most travelling by boat, hanging hammocks and using the boats as floating hotel during the 3 day extravaganza. It begins with a street parade but the highlight is a performance in a packed 35,000 seat arena. We attended an abbreviated version of the 3 hour performance, held at one of the practice venues.  2 samba schools compete every year telling the same story.  The story goes that a poor farmer kills a bull to feed his pregnant wife. The bull belongs to a rich landowner whose daughter kept this bull as her special pet. In the end, the bull comes back to life and all live happily ever after. The story is a basic fairly tale, but fantastically becomes larger than life as its told in a dramatic dance performance with bright colored, feathered costumes and huge floats.

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The magic bull makes his appearance….

A huge production involves hundreds of dancers as well as a team behind the scenes to make it all happen.

The competition seems to involve the whole town in one way or another, people are so loyal to their side that they even wear soccer-type jerseys showing their team support. The Garantido team is the color red, and the Caprichoso team the color blue.

In order not to alienate Caprichoso fans, this is the only place in the world where Coca-Cola’s logo appears in blue.

The party was so much fun, I want to go back when the festival starts- Check out video of the real festival!

Posted by: barnesfest | March 26, 2010

Amazon adventure continues: Santarem, Brazil

This is the biggest city so far on our journey. And I know we’re getting closer to civilization because my iphone has reception for the first time since arriving in Brazil!

An interesting piece of history once known as the town of Fordlandia is about 50-100 miles north of here. Henry Ford once thought he would build his own rubber plant and factory there, but it was a total disaster. He hired indigenous people from all over Brazil to work in the plant, but the conditions weren’t good and he didn’t understand the local culture. For example, the workers were set to eat cafeteria style, but for them, they were being forced to be waitstaff, and that was a huge insult. They staged a rebellion, shouting “I’m a worker not a waiter!”. The rebellion was so bad that the Ford executives had to flee and hide in the jungle, and the factory never recovered. If you ask the local people why it didn’t work, they say its because Ford didn’t ask for help, however, you could also attribute it to the economy or the competition of Malaysian rubber. Like most stories, the truth is probably somewhere in between, but it does illustrate the importance of understanding the local culture if you’re trying to do business in a country other than your own.
Today, large companies are still coming to Brazil to try to make a profit, and still not having much success. A major industrial company, Cargill, built a huge soybean processing plant in Manaus. We’re all aware of the de-forestation of the rainforests, but it seems to have slipped their mind. They weren’t able to get the permits because cutting down rainforest trees to replace them with soybean crops is bad for the environment, so now this huge factory sits idle in Manaus.
We took a small river boat up a tributary of the Amazon called the Tapejo, and got to do some fishing. My dad (a lifetime fisherman as a hobby) was one of only 2 people in our group of about 30 to catch a fish – although he didn’t realize at the time, it was a piranha!
The boat staff fried it up for lunch with some manioc flour (a typical Brazilian grain similar to tapioca that is eaten like rice – it was hard and tasteless, but good when mixed with the fish.) I don’t usually like fish, but this fresh catch was pretty good. The trip back was nice and relaxing, we saw more wild life, I saw a huge iguana run up the river bank, and we saw lots of birds – egrets, and many river people like these kids.
In the afternoon, we took a tour of the city – they have huge Xmas display in the center of town, I tried to buy Havianas, which are really cheap here, but no luck, they didn’t have my size and we didn’t have much time to pursue it.
We went to a small museum where they have ceramics dating back 8000 years. They think that eventually it will be proven that the Aztecs were originally here in the Amazon and then eventually migrated to Mexico.
We also went to a farm, saw lots of exotic fruits, and tasted some – some slimy and sweet (not good) others less sweet and consistency of a pea – those were much better.
We saw how they farm and process the manioc flour by extracting the juice from the root using a special elongated basket and brazil nuts (bought some to take home) you can see they use a machete to break open the pod and get the nuts inside.
Herbs of all kinds are grown and cultivated in the forest.  They use many for medicinal purposes, to cure anything you could think of – everything from upset stomach and headache to heart trouble and cancer. As the population grows more and more urban, these traditions are being lost, but before the knowledge is gone forever, scientists are coming to the Brazilian rainforests to study the practices of the local medicine men, in a hope that they can find cures for disease from the unique indigenous plants here.
Overall quite a an interesting day and I learned a lot!
Posted by: barnesfest | March 26, 2010

Amazon Adventure – Part 1

For the holidays, my 85-year-old father and I embarked on Princess Cruises’ 600 passenger Royal Princess for the adventure of a lifetime – a 2 week, 3,500 mile journey from Manaus, Brazil, up the Amazon River to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

In the next entries, I’ll attempt to capture the highlights of our journey, and I look forward to your comments and questions!

Day 1 Manaus, Brazil

A city of over 1 million people, a city which came to greatness during the 1800’s Rubber Boom in Brazil, but today shows its age – remnants of once grandiose architecture are now crumbling in ruins. One Manaus’ highlights is its opera house, built in the 1800′s by rich rubber merchants who wanted to entertain and show off their wealth by building an ornate European style opera house in the middle of the Amazon jungle.
As it was located in walking distance from our ship, we set out to have a look. On the way, we encountered a street filled with market stalls selling everything from remote controls to shoes to fried plantains. I’ve seen busy markets before, but nothing like this.
The streets were filled with music and shoppers galore, all in from the surrounding villages to do some Christmas shopping. It was loud, crowded, and every stall had a man with a microphone. Even though I don’t speak Portuguese I could tell he was hocking his plastic, made-in-china, fake Nikes.
It seemed that every woman in Manaus, no matter what size shape or age, has managed to stuff herself into a dress which was 2 sizes to small. I give them credit for achieving the optimum ratio of a minimum amount of fabric to maximum amount of cleavage. There was one store selling these dresses for about the equivalent of $12US and the feeding frenzy of women on this bin of dresses was like a pack of piranha on a wounded fish.
I hate looking like a tourist, but in my long sleeved shirt, buttoned to the top button to keep my pale New England skin from getting a burn. And we were the only ones…the ship I’m on has less than 700 people, so even the other passengers weren’t to be seen around. In this labyrinth of activity (armed only with a very poor map from the ship) we couldn’t quite find our way. Eventually, after admitting defeat and asking directions from a group of military police, we found it.
The opera house was beautifully decked out for the Christmas holiday!
Last year I toured the Estates Theatre in Prague (where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni), and the interior was very similar. Furnishings, art, just about everything was brought in from Europe – and showed the decadence of those rubber merchants. Opera patrons arrived by horse drawn carriages and legend has it that while waiting during the performance, the horses were given champagne to drink. Who knows if that’s really true – but it is a great visual, and illustrates the opulence of the time.
The chandeliers were even made of Murano glass, imported from Venice.
The opera house was lovely, but I have to say that I’ve been all over the world and seen lots of buildings, big, ornate, you name it. For me the love of travel comes from that trip through the market…the warm, friendly military police who pieced together enough broken English between the 3 of them to give us directions, and a man on the street selling interesting looking pastry, who after I took a photo of it showed me an article featuring him in the local newspaper.
On our walk back to the ship, after waiting half an hour in line at the ATM, the sunny skies turned suddenly and a torrential rain started…lasted for about 1/2 hour and now less than an hour later, the sun came out again.
The fantastic part about this trip was that after a long, hot day walking through the city (it was 40C / 104F), I went back to the ship, watched “The Hangover” in the ship’s lounge and later had a great 5 course dinner with French wine. This trip was the perfect combination of 2 extremes!

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