Canary Islands part II

Some more hiking, food and fails. This time in La Palma.

It is time for 2nd island- LA PALMA!

On Tenerife we had whole 5 days to see the island. On La Palma, on the other hand, just 3.5. You wouldn’t imagine how much can happen in such a short time.

We arrived in the afternoon, so for the first day we planned just a little walk in the woods and finding a place to put the tent. As climbing El Teide wasn’t enough Tom planned another 2-day hike on La Palma. Our very first driver was a German guy (like most of them) who took us half way to the first destination.  Unfortunately it turned out that the road was closed and we have to go around. It is not super easy to get lifts anyway and for some reason we got stuck again while trying to hitchhike back from the dead end. We decided to hike up to the second road going that direction instead of waiting for the lifts. On our way walking up we found some amazing grapes. I have to mention here that I do not support any kind of stealing- taking a pencil without asking, a fruit from someones garden, or robbing a bank. We found a grape field where they had already picked all the grapes, leaving behind just few of them. So, we decided that there is no harm in taking those. With eating the leftovers you are actually saving it and not letting it go wasted. And they were AMAZING. On that day we put the tent up in the forest and opened our first jar of mojo. Now…. this bad boy just turned into my favourite food! It is a red pepper sauce with garlic and it is GREAT! I am already on a hunt for a recipe to try a homemade one, because those local potatoes with the mojo … OH MY! You need to visit Canaries already just for food. If you are not into spicy food then look for mojo SUAVE. I have tried it here in England twice. And not to brag or anything, but the second one was exactly how I like it- garlicky and vinegary.

The second day we were supposed to do the “big hike”. The plan was to start from Fuencaliente and hike all over the mountains to Roque de los Muchachos. Unlike on Tenerife, La Palma does not have just 1 big mountain, but it is rather like a crater. I must say I had already a bad feeling about it as Teide was still in my muscles. We covered ourselves with SPF 50+ and packed the bags. We didn’t have too much water with, so I felt a little anxious already because of that. After an hour of walking I remembered why I didn’t want to go on top of Teide. It was even drier and hotter than on Tenerife. When walking, you could feel your throat drying as it was painful to swallow or breathe. When drinking water you never feel “done”. It was even so bad that we both decided to quit. Instead we hitchhiked around it and started the hike from a little… okay a lot closer.

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On our way to Roque de los Muchachos we had a short stop in the capital. I wanted to take a shower and go swimming. While getting ready for the swim a guy came over and asked where are we from. I wouldn’t have been suspicious, but he was carrying a dead animal on his shoulder. Yea, it was just a  skin but it was creepy as… Wanted us to lend him a phone…. sure. After explaining him that our phones are empty he ran towards 2 girls, while undressing himself. He dropped his animal skin few meters from the girls and ran into the water… naked. Okay. He seemed like having fun in there. Then he came out, put clothes back on and went to the girls. Said something and ran away again with his dead animal on shoulder. This kind of people….

After having shower in the capital we decided to walk out of the city and put the tent up on the way. Now, what we didn’t realise is that the most difficult place to put a tent up is a small village. Why? Well first of all, everyone has a dog. Those small dogs you know, that you have to carry around and dress up. So not really dogs, but something like that. Whenever you pass a house they started making this annoying barking-like sound that makes all the owners come out to check what’s up. And it seemed the villages are glued together as one just didn’t end. It was already late, dark and I didn’t even care about the views, but just to find a place, that is on no one’s land and without barking right next to you. On our way one car stopped and asked if we needed help. We tried our best to explain that we are looking for a place for a tent…. in Spanish. Yeah, they didn’t help us much. We just sticked with the plan and put the tent up near the village’s central square. In the dark it seemed quite nice but in the morning …  It was the most dirty place we have ever slept.  The view was nice, though.

SO, instead of 2 days we did a 5h hike which for me was still too much. I really enjoyed the first 4 hours. It was mostly on a ridge and with amazing views the whole time. For some reason the last hour just did not want to finish. It seemed like the top is getting further with every step. But I made it! We made it! And fortunately got a lift right from the top down so did not have to wear those boots any more. I am not sure weather just walking too much makes me hate them or they are a bit too big. When walking on even surfaces it is fine and comfortable, but as soon as I have to go downhill my feet just start sliding towards the top of the boots and squeeze my toes. It is so painful and I have no idea how to fix it. I have tried different socks, insoles, nothing helps.

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For the night we got to an amazing small town called Tazacorte. So many people had recommended it and we decided to spend the night there. A small town right on the beach between banana fields. BTW, the biggest banana fields I have seen. WOW. We slept on the beach right under the stars. Saw an incredible sunset again and enjoyed a nice sweet cocktail at the bar. Again- exactly like I imagined the island to be. And very Spanish, I must say.

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The last day was for seeing the rest of it and getting back towards the airport. Before even flying to there Tom was suggested to try a restaurant by the airport that has the most amazing fish. We thought it would be nice to leave it for the last day. We had a swim/bath in the ocean, enjoyed some views, I took tons of pictures from crabs and the sea. I must say, those little things have either very good eyesight or they have some human-sensors. Whenever I tried to go a little closer for a better picture, they just escaped. I decided to put on a dress as I had carried one around the whole time without wearing. Yeah I know, it is stupid. I probably had another 3-4 things that I carried without wearing, but I just need to have a backup. I make this mistake every trip that I carry too much stuff that I don’t really need. Now, when I had my dress on and ready for a romantic dinner, it came out that the damn place was closed for the whole Monday. What?! No fish? Great! SO, instead we had a bottle of wine that we bought before and red mojo. Not too bad but for sure nothing to dress up for. We had still nice and cozy night, full of laughter. We always do. We decided to use the situation and sleep on the tables of the restaurant outside. I’m glad we did because it was raining the whole night. And not just showering but really raining.

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I woke in the morning with a car engine noise and lights blinding me. Someone stopped the car at the restaurant and came out. I sat up, not knowing what to do. I just sat there in the dark, Tom laying next to me, not knowing either. The guy came out, walked towards us, sat right next us and lighted a cigarette. I was so scared he’s gonna pull a gun out or something for sleeping on his property. We said “hola” and that’s it. Just sat there for another 5-10min not knowing what to do. The guy just kept smoking and spitting. In about 15 min another car pulled over and I just got so scared I stood up and started packing the bags. We took our 5 things and went already to the airport (which btw was closed as it was 6am). The restaurant was supposed to be opened at 13pm, why the hell were they there at 6am??? Anyway nothing really happened as we just ran away. Fortunately found a door opened at the airport as well.

So that was La Palma. All in all, a little different and a little smaller than Tenerife. A very nice place, but I am not sure if you would miss anything if you would go to just Tenerife. Maybe the local mojo. This is a class on it’s own. For sure. And for the song I just chose something I heard several times from the radio in the cars… And I guess with Shakira you cannot go wrong. Not that we had anything to do with puro chantaje, though.

 

Canary Islands part I

Island nr 1- Tenerife.
A heatstroke, panic attack and incredible views.

Again way too much time has passed since my last post but you know, life takes over.

So I just got back from my summer vacation on Canaries and started my MSc in Manchester. I am not going to stop on the school and the new life in here as there is not much to say yet but I am going to write about the vacation. I think it is going to be way too long for one post so I decided to divide it.

Where do I start? Oh, yeah, first stop TENERIFE.

As always Tom did all the planning part and chose (based on recommendations) 4 islands to visit- Tenerife, La Palma, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. Before taking off from Birmingham’s airport I thought Tenerife is going to be the least interesting of them all. Why? I have no idea. Now that I am back, I must admit Tenerife was one of my favourites.

We landed in the evening so the first day we had to just find a place to put up the tent. In the first car we got to talking with the locals and it came out that hitchhiking nd tenting is going to be a huge problem here. Locals don’t tend to give lifts and the landscape might be too rocky and touristic for camping. So the first night we spent in our sleeping bags without a tent. Location was perfect- warm night on the beach without any city lights.

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The next day we were supposed to go to hike a little and then hitchhike further. I was so excited as it was soooooo warm and I missed sun so much. We managed to leave our bags to a small bar and as we planned to hike just for an h or 2 didn’t take anything with, just my camera. Even the water not. We regretted that after half an h of hiking. It was so hot and the air was so dry that it was difficult to breath and swallow. No one had mentioned it and we did not expect anything like that. After an h or 1.5 I started feeling dizzy. Every time I took few steps uphill I felt I’m going to faint. And that was supposed to be an easy one. I gave up and started crawling back down towards the bar, water. I had my head covered, sunscreen on. I thought I was ready, but clearly I wasn’t.

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Tom came back from the top and admitted it was a little difficult even for him. We took a beer from the bar and it has never tested better. After sharing one beer, we both felt a little drunk. Yes, you read it right. We shared 1 beer and we got both drunk. That’s how bad it was. Getting a little more sober, we hit the road again to hitchhike further. First time in my life I felt that the shadow is my friend. By the end of that day I had a heatstroke. I felt sick, I had a headache and I didn’t want to see anything related to sunlight. Somehow (looking shit) I got us a ride in the mountains and we decided to put up a tent in the most amazing place so far. You could see the highest mountain, sun falling asleep behind the clouds. The most incredible sunset I have ever seen!

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The second full day I decided to wear a damn hat the whole day. Tom had one with and I looked stupid with it but I didn’t care. As long as I don’t get any strokes. All the rides we got were by tourists who wanted to stop on every viewpoint. Convenient to me as I wanted to take pictures from all angles. On one of the stops it was so windy that when I lifted my hand off from the hat to take something, the hat flew away. And not just on the ground but over the damn cliff. Yes, I lost the only hat we had. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as the day before, so no strokes whatsoever. We visited few little villages and Tenerife just managed to make a little nest in my heart and stay there. I was a little naive to think that the vacation is going to last that way.

The one big hike Tom had planned was climbing El Teide. And not just that, but from the sea level. That is more than 20km, 3718m elevation. We started with a nice cloudy weather. Seemed like it is not going to be too bad. On our way people started throwing us thumbs and waving. One got even a little concerned and told me to go pasito. By the way, I learned so much Spanish on that trip. It seems like a nice easy language to learn, so I’m planning to get more into it in England as well. Back to El Teide. After walking 4-5h, as always, I felt I’m braking. “I don’t want to do this”, “Why are you making me do this”, “How much longer” “I am giving up”, all those usual sentences were on repeat in my head. After hiking higher of the clouds, the sun came out again. And this time hotter and drier than ever. First time in my life I experienced a panic attack. With the 10kg bag under a hot sun, after 5h hike I felt I cannot breath. Didn’t matter how much i tried, I felt I am not getting enough of air. My hero saved me again. Tom took my bag and without an extra weight I managed to go at least that far that we got into a shadow. On around 1600m of elevation we met the forest guards. As it is so dry, the danger of fire is very very high. Every single person mentioned us not to do any fire there. We were not planning to because we already knew that, but they still felt it to be needed to say. The guys gave us water, fruits, chocolate. What else could I ask for. We told them it is very difficult for us as we are not used to that dry air. They said on top of Teide the humidity % is around 5-10. What????? I knew, I am not going there. On that day I managed to push myself few more hours, but I was sure I am not going to hike it to the top.

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2150 was the elevation from sea level that we hiked that day. We had a rough day with amazing views behind us. We spent the night under the starts and had the most amazing dinner (chickpeas and salad). Tom woke up at 2am to catch the sunrise on top of Teide and I started walking towards the road first thing in the morning. This night I slept so bad. Not just because it got suddenly freezing and Tom was snoring, but as soon as he left me 2am, every little noise made me nervous. The only animals there are lizards, and still I felt like someone is walking towards me. I fell asleep at 4am, woke up at 7 and did my little solo hike. After 2h I was on the road. I had 2 options- to walk 7km on a very narrow curvy road or to hitchhike them. I had enough of hiking and I didn’t want to take a single step on  that road. I decided to hitchhike alone, first time ever. I do not recommend it, but as it was very touristic part, I felt it was okay. 3. car I hitchhiked stopped. It was a couple that was driving to the exact same place. Lucky? Maybe. If You are ever planning to visit Tenerife, then Teide is a must! Especially if you are from anywhere but a warm country. The dessert-like surroundings and mountains are nothing like you have seen in Europe. If you are not a hiker, then road goes up to 2200 and on not windy days you can take a cabin lift from there until almost to the top.

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I met Tom 2-3h after and he was exhausted. I had been napping on a bench while he was climbing up to the top and back. We decided to hitchhike somewhere to get a bite and take a rest. When I am abroad I want to taste authentic local food, so I ordered a Canarian salad. I got a plate full of fruit, veges and fish. Everything was good, but did not match at all. Who would eat banana and orange with tuna? After many Germans we arrived to a small town and spent the night on the beach. Is it allowed? No. But if you go in the dark, make no trouble, no noise, leave no litter behind, no one really cares. The best meal that day was local watermelon. SO GOOD! I must say all the local fruits are tastier than you are used to. We ate hundreds of mangos and watermelons on that trip.

Next day with the heat we hitchhiked to the capital. Seemed like a nice place, but nothing special, really. If you are into partying then probably this would be the place (or south of the island, where all the tourists with this habit are). From Santa Cruz we got a lift by 3 students who where driving to the beach. The local one of them said the best beach to be Las Teresitas, so that’s where we went. Finally I saw the part of the island that I was imagining it to be like. Palms, sand, waves. That is my happy place.

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After an h we were back on the road again. Tom wanted to reach a small village before going to the airport, but for some reason up on the mountains no one took us. We managed to see a little bit of the famous laurel forest but that was it. In there you simply forget where you are as it looks nothing like rest of the island. We spent the whole evening hitchhiking and did not get a lift. In the morning we decided to skip it as we did not simply have any time left. We had to get back in order not to miss the flight to La Palma.

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In conclusion, Tenerife is amazing! You wouldn’t believe how different one small island can be in it’s different parts. I think everyone would find something to do there. Weather you are into hiking, partying, nature generally, people, beaches. It is all in that one island. When it comes to hitchhiking, it is not so bad as they say. Most of the cars that give lifts are of course tourists’, but locals do take hitchhikers as well. When it comes to camping, then you have to be a bit more flexible than usually. You may have to sleep on rocks or without the tent, but the views will make it all worth it.

As the first post came so long I might need to have a separate post for each island. Will see. I hope everyone of you will have the chance to experience this kind of place, a palmtree’s island!

 

Ireland

As I promised this post is about about my vacation in Ireland.

When planning a summer vacation I must admit, Ireland was not in my top 3 destinations. On the other hand, summer is the best time to do it “our way”. Before I start, I have to say that first time ever I forgot my camera home when going on vacation. That means I don’t have amazing photos to show you guys I did few with my phone, but for some reason the quality seems to get worse by time.

Giant Causeway 2

I hate yellow. And this trip I was wearing this yellow jacket all the time because the rain did not stop.

We packed our bags and drove the car to Pembroke, Wales, and took a ferry from there to Rosslare, Ireland. 4h was the only sleep we got that night as that is the time to get there. We arrived around 7 in the morning and started hitchhiking. Tom had read that Ireland and Iceland are the best countries to hitchhike around… well, he was right.

The plan was to hitchhike all around the cost, starting with the East side and finish with the South. And all that in one week. I know, AMBITIOUS. But we did it! Almost. We didn’t have time for the South, though.

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Our ambitious vacation in 1 week.

The first longer stop was in Wiklow mountains. One of the driver giving us a lift was an Estonian!! Can you believe, in the middle of nowhere, an Estonian gives a lift to Estonian. I felt like home. Before climbing uphill we ended up having a long chat and coffee with the last driver on the way there. We talked about the economics and hitchhiking, travelling and real estate. It came out his grandson is working in Estonia. Again, Estonia is bigger than it seems. About the mountains I can say, it’s nice…. but not my favourite. A bit too low for me although we saw pretty nice views. We made a few-hour hike in the mountains and started hitchhiking further. During that day we barely got any rain. Yet it was so cold that I was wearing gloves, hat, everything I had. Seemed like local people felt the temperature differently, cause they felt comfortable in shorts and t-shirts.

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Tom walking through weeds as high as me in Wiklow.

The first night in Ireland was supposed to be spent in Dublin and with a miracle we made it. By the end of the first day we had met an Estonian, guy who’s grandson lives in Estonia and 2 Lithuanians. What are the chances?! So, Dublin….. It is a nice city, but in my opinion a little overrated. It is just a city. There are no parks or big green areas. What is more, the little green they have, is fenced. That is also a reason why we ended up climbing fences in the middle of the night. We were so tired and already decided where to put a tent up until 2 locals stopped us and asked if we need any help. It came out that the region we had stopped is a bit dangerous. They claimed that some juvenile criminals have put a guy on fire there. Yeah, I wasn’t so sleepy any more. They showed us a fenced park and were sure if we are not going to bring attention, it will be fine. They were right, we got out before they had even a chance to open the gate in the morning.

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Pub street in Dublin.

The most difficult part of the trip was getting out of Dublin. Hundreds of cars and noone wanted to take us. Here I have to explain you something, There are to types of people who will stop their cars and give you a ride. One type is “hitchhikers”, so people who used to hitchhike or simply have no fear in front of it. They are happy to help you out, get to know you a little, and see their own country through a foreigner’s eyes. The other type is “savers”. People who think they have to save you from a bad spot of hitchhiking, dangerous people etc. A woman from the second type stopped and gave us a ride out of Dublin. Of course we were happy as we had been in one spot for hours. Yet, most of the times those “savers” put you in an uncomfortable position. They are helping you out, but during the whole ride you have to listen and nod while they are completely fustigating your way of travelling. It is not pleasant but it happens. Another thing to mention when talking about Dublin is crazy prices. It is the same level with London for sure. Not just that the beer in a pub costs 6 euros, but to get a room there is just a nightmare. Monthly a thousand or more for a room is quite ordinary.

On our way out of Dublin we got a long ride from a guy who was on his way to shopping…. in Newry. If you check the map then Newry (in Norther Ireland) is 100km from the capital of Ireland. Because of the difference in prices people drive 100km to go grocery shopping behind the border. Seems like a little too much for me, but I guess it’s worth it then. And at that point for sure I didn’t mind, as we had a fun ride for 100km.

In Newry we met 2 lovely ladies that didn’t have plans for Sunday and decided to go where ever we were going. At first we said we are going to the next town, but then it came out in the conversation that we want to go to Belfast for the night. And on our way to Newcastle they decided to drive to Belfast with us. While giving us a ride they did a spontaneous visit to one of the lady’s son’s home. You’re welcome! In Northern Ireland the accent is very strong and it’s not rare that you have to ask 2 or 3 times before understanding the question. In this car we were discussing the issue between Irish and English, about the history, about the current situation. For tourists it safe to go anywhere but for locals it is a little different. You need to know exactly which regions are nationalists’ areas and where Irish live. Just so you wouldn’t wave a Union Jack in Irish towns and vice versa. Even all those years later, the tension is still there. After spending a cozy night in Belfast, having a hot shower, and sleeping in bed for a change, back on the road. Next stop was a valley with beautiful river, waterfall and castle.

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In Belfast. It really is a nice city!

We had a slow few-hour walk in a beautiful Valley with amazing views. Sun was shining and I really felt like on a vacation. We didn’t spend too much time on just sitting around there but decided to get back to the road as soon as possible. The next stop was Giant Causeway. All the coastline in Ireland is amazing. Yet, I feel it is slightly overrated. Giant Causeway was a little different due the volcano caused shape of the rocks. This time the weather was not so good. It was just pouring rain.. constantly. Seemed like it didn’t hold the tourists back, though. A lot of people still walking around even if the rain is pouring like hell. Cannot blame them, the view was unbelievable. Locals say that Irish weather means 4 seasons in 1 day. And on the sea you could see them all. It was pouring rain, but somewhere on a horizon it was sunny and summer was pushing through the deep clouds.

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Those funny rocks. And on cliffs they look like pipes.

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This contrast is breathtaking.

I am not going to stop for too long on places we didn’t have really time to see much. We wanted to visit the highest cliffs, but it was so rainy and foggy, that we didn’t even bother climbing up to the top. Instead we had a little more time in Galway. Seems like one of the favourite cities of locals. Everyone recommended and went crazy about it. As we saw it just at night and the very center only, I can say it was nice, but not sure if I would go as crazy as other people. There was a horse-racing festival going on when we arrived which meant tons of drunk people at night. And the falafels we tried were bullsh*t, so I don’t know.

The very end of the trip was saved for the best- Brandon mountain. As I said Ireland is not the destination if you are looking for beautiful weather. It is a destination when you want to meet cool people and see the nature at it’s finest.

Before going on with Brandon, I will mention the cliffs of Moher. Again because it is so hyped we decided to go. I am not saying it is not worth visiting it, but I am saying it is not worth driving to Ireland because of that. The same kind of views you can see in Wales or England as well. So nothing really new for me.

Before climbing uo to Brandon we managed to find a spot for the tent in one of the most amazing places in Ireland. In front of us mountains and the sea. I must say climbing in rain and mud is difficult and exhausting, but the views are worth it. I didn’t go to the top as it was too foggy and I was already tired of saving my feet from drowning in the mud. Instead I was climbing down while Tom went up alone. Just so you know, we ended up in our meeting place almost the the same time. He climbed 200m more and arrived 10 min before me. Yeah, I am slow. I did mention in one post about the knee problem I had. I have been trying out some insoles and seems they help enough to keep away the big pain. I did not feel the stabbing at once. Good for me right?!

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Tom taking a rest when climbing Brandon.

The second time we got stuck on the road was on the same peninsula after climbing the mountain. We were in a small hole and noone wanted to take us. Spent the night again in amazing surrounding. Saw the sun going to sleep behind the horizon while eating the dinner and in the morning woke up with sun smiling behind the mountains. Pure beauty.

As you can see from the map, we visited Cork as well but that was really just a 15 min stop, so I cannot really give my opinion in this. We managed to hit Rosslare even sooner than expected. Had an amazing meal at the port and good sleep on the beach.

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Those clouds.

This was quite a long one, sorry about that. These where the main highlights for me in this trip. So much happened and we met so many nice people. My message with this post is to encourage you all to try out this way of travelling. You cannot take shower as often as you would like to, you are tired of holding your thumb up and waiting, It is unexpected and you may find yourself either on the backseat of new Mercedes or in a trunk of a van. All those downsides are true. But you meet amazing and inspiring people and get to know the country through locals eyes and experience. You can literally ask them anything about the life there and get an honest answer. Quite often you end up in places you did not plan going and discover destination you did not even know of. That is the reason to do it in that way!

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My rock, my partner in crime. One guy said if we are going to survive this trip, we are going to survive anything as a couple. Wise words.

This time no new pictures in photography section as the quality does not handle any criticism. Oh btw… for the future (in case I forgot the camera again) can anyone recommend me a phone that has a camera decent enough for photography?

But about the song, I guess you saw that coming …. I don’t know any Irish songs :(, so here it is, something from Galway.

Fighting the cows and time

As my trip to the Alps was just full of unfortunate events, I have few more to share with you! This time facing the cows and lack of time.

More scary moments

Like I said in the first post of “when things go wrong”, I have plenty of little situations where I have been really really scared or the things have gone the opposite direction from my expectations. We are back in the Alps! This post I will dedicate to my amazing vacation in the Alps and my amazing Tom who always manages to come out of difficulties. Yes, I know, I already told you about the little tears (khmm) I had in the mountains on that trip, but the ones I am going to talk about today are not related to my fear of heights at all. As the stories I have left from the Alps are rather long, you have to settle with only 2 this time.

So, the first scene coming to my mind is me and Tom sitting in a tent and being abused by 40 cows. Let’s make one thing clear- I am not afraid of cows… usually! Okay?! I am a peasant, I am not afraid of domestic animals. Yet, I find it scary when the whole herd of cows confine me.

I remember waking up in the tent in French mountains (Mont Cenis) and seeing a huge amount of cows like 200 meters from us drinking water and sunbathing. As usually we did our little morning routines and didn’t really notice that the cows started coming towards us. They were already about 10-15 meters from the tent when I popped my head out of the tent and pulled it right back as quickly as I could. I whispered to Tom that the cows are right next to the tent and are staring at us. Should we scare them away? Should we close the tent’s door? Should we just keep sitting quietly? We decided to close the door and see what happens. So, for you guys, who haven’t been in the mountains- mountain animals are not like you are used to at your home/neighbours. They are not coming to you when calling by the name, they are rather wild and unstable, I would say (okay probably not). Well, at least they are not coming when you call them! You can notice it anywhere as they have put up big signs- to not disturb or go near the animals. Yeah probably a precaution but makes you careful and slightly scared. And they are big! Especially when you are sitting down, they seem like giants!

So, there we were looking into each other eyes, being surrounded by 40 cows (god knows how easily disturbed/irritated). And then, as I was not expecting at all, they all started coming to smell our tent.  All, one by one. You could only smell the… bad smells, see the tongue coming under the door towards you, and hearing “water” pouring right next to you (only a thin fabric separating from getting hit by it). To be honest, I was terrified. Not that they will shit on our tent or start eating our food, but that one of them decides to take a little break and sit on us. That is not the way I want to die, okay?! So, every time they rubbed their bellies or asses against the tent, Tom made this really funny (like an old farmer) noise “Uoooooouh”. And they really did listen. It didn’t scare them away for long, but at least they didn’t want to sit on us. After like an hour of waiting quietly them to get bored, I just started packing my stuff, thinking that in a chance they all are at least few meters from the tent, I will run for good. Fortunately, as soon as we started moving in the tent, they got scared and went back where they came from. Yeah, I know, should have done it sooner, but you never know, how they react to a noise/your behaviour. One must be careful with them for sure. So, here is an advice- do not close the tent when 40 cows are about to come and lick it!

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Some of the original “bad girls”!

The second story is about hitchhiking and being on time. Everyone who knows me, also knows I am never late. I feel so bad when I am late that I am rather too early than late. I don’t know, I just hate it. But when hitchhiking you cannot do anything about it. The worse thing is when it happens when you literally cannot be late. On our way back from the Alps I experienced first time ever what is it like to not be picked up for a long time. So, we started coming from France rather early and hoped to have some extra time for Belgium/Netherlands. Well, that didn’t happen. We got stuck in Belgium for half a day. We arrived at one of the resting areas around 4-5pm and didn’t get the ride until the next morning. The worse part was that it was on a highway (scroll down to look it up on the map), so we couldn’t even take a public transport. We were literally stuck.  What is more, I had my plane leaving the next day (around noon) from Germany (260km to go).

Probably because of the current migration situation in Europe, as soon as it got dark, people were literally running away from you. I was carrying my backpack the whole time to show that I am a hiker not a terrorist. Unfortunately it didn’t help much. Until the next morning everyone was either full or just escaped before we could even ask anything. In the morning (it was already around 8am) we convinced one truck driver to take us further as I was soooooooooooo freaked out I am going to miss the flight (and therefore work on Monday as well). He took us further, but it was still not enough to get to the airport, because we were already behind from the schedule and he could drive only with 90p/h. He dropped us off in Maastrich (Netherlands) about 100km from the airport. So, we had to take a train in the Netherlands (omg, this damn thing is expensive!) I think we paid like over 30 euros for both tickects. And when you have been hitchhiking the whole trip, then suddenly 30 euros per 90km is A LOT. We kept calling to our friends in Estonia and Czech to check any other kind of possibilities to get to the airport (Düsseldorf Weeze). Not only that there were not enough options in public transport to choose from, but all of them did not match with my plane departure.

So there I was, an h before the gate closing, around 100 km from the airport and with no ticket. Yes, I was supposed to print it out like 2 days before the flight, but remember, I just came from the mountains?! So, we had like 5 minutes until the train’s departure when we had to find a way to get further from our final train stop to the airport, and print out my ticket somewhere. As always, my Prince Charming got everything done on time. He asked one hotel receptionist to print it out and she was willing to do it. For some money, of course (cause let’s be honest, 1 A4 is damn expensive to print out). I remember sitting on the train and bothering everyone with questions like do you have someone living nearby, or do you have a car, or do you know how to get to the airport from Venray. Again, no one did, of course (would have been too easy). We even called for a taxi…. Oh boy… We were ready to pay 50!!!!!! damn euros to drive 25km to the airport. I was about to faint when I heard the price. And can you imagine the damn royal taxi was late.. a lot. So we came off the train in Venray, I was already so late and still 25 km from the airport. Now what?! That’s it? That’s where it all ends? I was so desperate that I started literally begging people to give me a ride. After embarrassing myself in front of like 3 cars, one couple was willing to take me. We arrived in front of the airport exactly when the gate was supposed to be closing. In the car I took out all of the liquid things to waste as little time as possible. I was running like a lunatic, but can you imagine, I made it. I love you Ryanair for being late! I even had to wait a bit at the gate to get on the plane. This was literally the first time in my life I was thankful for someone/something being late.

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The way from the resting area to the airport. For zooming in check it on google maps.

As you can already see, I am afraid of many things. I don’t know why. I just have this one idea how the situation could go wrong/dangerous and it’s just stuck in my head, freaking me out. It is stressful and nerve racking but this kind of situations make you feel alive! So next time I try not to worry (that much), cause things always work out when they are supposed to! 😉

I like adding little melodies to my posts (hopefully you too). In order to not worry, there is only one song for it!

Not an ordinary hiker

It’s time to tell some stories again! Here you go, „Scary situations vol 2 aka mountains’ special”

This time the „critical” situations are not that critical but as I am terribly scared of heights, you can try to put yourself in my shoes (yeah, I know, a hiker with a fear of heights- that’s going to be fun).

So, the very first really high mountain experience I had was back in my Erasmus when we went alpine skiing with the people from our dormitory. Because, you know we don’t have any mountains in Estonia. Compared to those bad boys we don’t even have hills. It was my second alpine skiing time in general, so you can imagine how bad I was at it. If anyone of you has visited Vitosha (to see an additional information about the mountains, click on links) mountain in Bulgaria, then you know what I am talking about. Well, let’s say the tracks are not meant for beginners like me, especially when the beginner is afraid of heights. Yet, after the first slope I was so excited that I agreed to drive to the very top with the guys. Yeah, that was not good idea. So, the guys got bored of the top and decided to WALK up from unmarked hill to get on another track. Like in a movie it got suddenly really foggy, so not only we walked up with the damn skis in a snow reaching to my bellybutton, but we got completely lost. I was so tired after climbing that I couldn’t have even skied down on an easy slope. To make things worse, the side of the mountain we ended up with was full of rocks and as a beginner I didn’t even have a helmet. Just great! I tried to slowly ski down but as I felt the speed just getting up too fast, my legs being too tired to control the speed, and there were too many rocks to go around, I sat down, took my skis off, and slid down on my ass like a kid. After trying to stay alive for an h we got down on a normal track and that was the last one for on that day.

Another similar situation was when hitchhiking in Italy with Latvians. After never really been hiked in big mountains I faced the size of Dolomites and climbing up with a big bag first time in my life. The track started with quite large road and seemed like this is going to be doable even for me. After 10 min of walking I already took off my jacket as I felt like I am running a marathon. I must admit now that the beginnings are always the hardest for me. The first half an hour or sometimes even an hour just comes only with the blood taste in my mouth and lack of air even on not too high altitudes. The moment this climbing got a bit out of hands for me was when the nice large road ended and we faced just a huge amount of rubble. It is possible to climb it, but with a big bag and not proper shoes it is very, very slippery. What is more, the road just got narrower and narrower. At one point I was even wondering how is it legal to open a track like that for people like me. Facing my fear of heights and falling down from the 30cm path, I made it to the highest point of the track. The only thing I was thinking about back then was „well, now it is going to get easier”. I have never been that wrong. The whole way down was only on the rubble. You literally had to keep the balance with all of the muscles you had, every step feeling like this is going to be the last one. And guess what, it would have been just one long slide down, cause there was literally nothing to grab or hold on to. Through the sweat we still made it!! What is more, with no scratches!

(Sorry for the quality, I didn’t have my camera back then.)

The next one is not about really being in a danger or feeling scared of heights, but facing your weaknesses. In spring 2016 we went to Croatia with a car. Spent there amazing week, although I didn’t get exactly that „sunny trip” as I thought I will. Before I even start describing the situation, I must say that in our relationship Tom is the one who sets up all the trips and plans everything. So all the amazing places we have visited together is only thanks to him. As always, when possbile, we try to fit in the schedule at least one hike. This time we chose Paklenica. It was supposed to be an easy track up next to a little river and as easily back down- all together 4h. So, perfect for making nice pictures. After an h walking up the track started to disappear. We were supposed to follow red dots, but often you just didn’t see any so you kept going until you found one. After already climbing 4 hours I was getting tired. Probably this was my weakness point back then. The feeling when you just have to keep going even if you are not enjoying and you are tired and want to quit, is frustrating. As the guy at the gate already lied about the length, we had no idea how long is it really going to take, because the track just got worse and worse. After 5 hours of trying to keep my feet dry I gave up and started walking right in the cold river. The craziest part was when the water got so deep that you couldn’t even walk it anymore. Well, now what? Swimming in April? Somehow by climbing some ropes we got to the top 4h later than expected and spent the night there as it was already getting dark. It seemed like a nice place to put a tent up until the morning when the screaming wild pigs woke us up.

(Left one be like- playing hide and seek with the track’s marking.)

People say that by facing your fears you are going to get rid of them. Well, I am not sure how long or how many times you are supposed to stare them, because for me it ain’t working. The last short story is from my latest trip to the Alps.  As I mentioned before, Tom is the experienced hiker and trip planner, so I completely trust him in this and follow where ever he goes. When we took the trip to the Alps we had been together a year or so, but in a long distance, so there was still a lot of things we didn’t know about each other. Like me being scared of heights. We climbed the whole way from Lichtenstein to Austria. On the way there I broke one of my lenses. Great! You are in the mountains, you are scared of heights, and now you are blind as well. Fortunately I had my glasses with, but as I have never been a fan of glasses, they didn’t really fit me and I felt very uncomfortable. As they were moving with my head I just felt dizzy all the time. On the way to Austria Tom had planned 2 bigger mountains/tops to overcome and enjoy the view. The first one was again with some really bad path almost like in Dolomites. So now I was on the side of a mountain, being scared of heights, feeling dizzy from the glasses and slippery because of the rubble. After trying to overcome the fear and climb about 5 min I just stopped. My legs where shaking so hard that I thought I am going to fall down just because of that. My eyes filled with tears, so instead of seeing little, I saw nothing. I guess this was the time to tell my boyfriend, that I am actually really scared of heights. This time we didn’t go to that top and decided to go around and skip that one. I must say I was relieved. The top we had to take instead wasn’t any better, though. Yes, it wasn’t rubble like the previous one, but the rocks where so big that you really had to climb it. Before taking the top we met one grandmother with my-aged grandson, so we asked how the track is. The guy said it’s really easy, but grandmother corrected him right away: “well, not very easy, but it’s okay”. So when a grandmother can do it, then I can do it… right?! The closer we got to the top, the worse it got. Maybe they were mountain goats or something but this wasn’t easy for sure. With a big bag and a fear it seemed like the craziest thing I have ever done. So i was just facing the rock the whole time as I was too scared to look anywhere else. Again not too wide surfaces to step on so my legs started to shake again. Tom took my bag so now it was just my ass that I needed to get over the damn top. Of course, I did it. Very slowly, but I did it. When usually people feel unbeatable after overcoming their fears, I just felt I need to go down right that moment. I took out my camera, took few pictures of the Lünersee and started climbing down, because everything I could think about was to sit down on a plain surface. I don’t regret anything and I am so proud of myself. I did take one of my favourite pictures of the mountains, but back then I was really the most scared I have ever been.

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So everyone, get up and face your fears, because it is going to take more than just once!

 

To travel or to travel?

My colorful stories from Erasmus times.

So I thought to write more about travelling this time. I have learned that in order to motivate or inspire someone to see the world and look further from the comfortzone, you need to give out some of your either embarrassing or very colorful stories from being on the road. Well, guess what, I have both and a lot.

Erasmus is great, I must say. Besides all the knowledge you get (p.s not for all of the students), you also experience something that you otherwise never would (p.s for all of the students). Well I would have definitely never thought  that I will find myself from a Tunisian wedding’s afterparty, driving with ferry in captain’s cabin or climbing fences in the middle of the night. I will dedicate this post to my lovely Erasmus friends who made those 3 months in Sofia inspiring to me.

The first little crazy story coming to my mind was when we took a trip to Romania. So we started hitchhiking in 4 ( 2+2) from Sofia. For some reason I ended up with 3 the most crazy people I have ever met and I decided to hitchhike first time in my life. So besides me I had there my very best Latvian girl, another globetrotter from Poland and last but not least my now already 1.5years boyfriend from Czech. The crazy part of the trip started when we tried to hitchhike back from Romania to Bulgaria. Me and Tom got stuck in a small village near Constanta. I had just said the words “Yeah, no BMW nor Mercedes is stopping for a hitchhiker” when one Mercedes pulled over. Inside was sitting a young guy (money shining from his eyes), speaking zero English, but understood when we said we are going towards Bulgaria. We sat in, both on the backseat, and as soon as we closed the door he put the music on so loud that I couldn’t even hear Tom talking right next to me. Well, I tried to calm myself down that maybe he is just a music fan. Suddenly, he made a turn to a very small road and drove towards old, half abandoned, broken houses. Let’s be honest a guy with a car like that probably doesn’t live in that part of the town, so I got a little bit worried. I was thinking, okay, so now we are going to get robbed or beaten up or something like that (as it was a small town in Romania). He stopped the car in front of one of the houses and started hitting the horn. After a minute about 10 (okay, rather 5) small gypsy boys were having their faces on the windows. He started screaming at them and hitting the window with his hands in a hope to scare them off. Well, let’s be honest, these fellas are scared of nothing. A little later a gypsy girl (seemed like 20 or so) sat in the car and they were talking (well more like arguing) something in Romanian. You didn’t need to know much Romanian to understand that the guy just ordered her in the car and that was the end of their discussion. My head was full of many thoughts: what is going to happen, and where are we going to be taken to, and what is up with that girl, why is she here, is she his slave or something. After a 15min drive we were finally on the border and the guy stopped. He said simply “Bulgaria” and pointed straight forward. We just thanked him kindly and got out of that car as fast as we could. For me this adventurous car drive was even a bit educational. I learned not to judge people too fast (with a hope that the girl is fine and is actually his girlfriend or something).

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Picture taken by a stranger in Pleven, Bulgaria.

The second one is also from 2015 when we took a trip to Istanbul with my roommates back then (amazing Polish and Latvian girl). We took a bus from Sofia to Istanbul and set up couchsurfing in the city. I must say the city really is amazing and I wish I had my camera back then. So, one of the days we decided to spend on the Prince’s Islands. As we needed to take a ferry for that, we decided to walk to the port and look around the city while walking. Suddenly we noticed a policeman on the road whistling and waving with hands. We were like three chickens not knowing what to do. At first we just kept walking but seeing the police officer getting only more frustrated, we started running. In about 100m we saw a group of people standing next to the road, so we thought, oh, some important guy is coming, take out your cameras. And after few minutes we heard a big bang. There was a bomb in one of the gardens next to the road we were walking on. So, they had found a bomb and deactivated it right there. Yeah, you can say the situation was quite out of our hands. Fortunately, again, everyone was okay and we just witnessed a badass almost-like-in-movie scene.

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Picture taken by my Polish girl in Istanbul. Found an uncle carrying bread on his head, why not.

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Picture taken by a stranger in a mosque in Istanbul.

For the last one in that post I will leave one rather funny one. It was one of the first nights of the second semester in Sofia, so I had just arrived. And we decided to go to a bar. Like always you get tired of one place and you move on. I did not know the city back then at all so I just followed the others. For some reason I found myself in the middle of the night alone in some club, so I decided to go home. After all the shots and I am not even sure what we drank, I had no idea which direction “home” was. So, I put on my coat and just started walking in a hope to see at least something familiar. After walking half an hour back and forth I started panicking. I really didn’t know where I was or where I was supposed to go, everything seemed far from familiar. I felt tears coming to my eyes. I didn’t have anyone’s number from the dorms yet nor cash with. I saw a taxi and I decided to take a taxi to home. I looked through all my pockets and found 2 levas (1 euro). So, I asked the driver through the tears if he can take me to my dorms, but I have only 2 levas. He said: “no problem!” After driving 3min the taxi stopped- we were at the front gate. As you can see, sometimes the situation is not that bad as you think. So, no hard feelings, guys!

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Picture taken by the barman of ´The Shots´ in Sofia.

And that post I will end with a song that has inspired me to overcome myself and live the life o the fullest. That means enjoying even the embarrassing an crazy situations.