How we choose our holiday destinations

One of my friends asked me how do we choose where to go next. To be hones,t it is a mix of faith, time and mood.

As you probably all know I am a sun lover and Tom is a mountain lover. I would like to think that after 2 years being together we have now both of the 2 interests which makes the decision making a little easier. However, both of us have “the lists” where we want to go and these do not match 100%. In order to cover at least half of our lists we need to take time off and spend a year or more just on travelling. Therefore, we are saving longer distances for later. For now, we just need to find one location that pleases both lists and is rather close. I used to ask just sun from our holidays and nothing more but living in England has made me miss snow and proper cold as well. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind a week in Iceland right now.

As I am currently working AND studying, I do not have that much time and freedom to go travelling often. Yet, all the bank holidays and my annual leave we have spent discovering new places. The next “holiday” we will have is probably in March or during Easter. I am not sure exactly weather to go to Scotland or Wales but for sure we cannot go too far due the time limit. This is the number one factor in the process of choosing a destination- how much time do we need vs how much we have in reality. Limited flexibility in your vacation timing can also mean that you need to spend a little more on the tickets. If you are one of us and you have just a week or less off, choose a destination country in Europe. This way you save a lot of time on travelling to the location (if you are from somewhere else then preferably something closer to your location) and can spend it in the destination instead. Europe seems like a small part of the world but you can book anything from skiing holidays to hot beach vacations.

The second thing we always think about is the season. If you are anything like us and want to see lots of places and most likely go there just once, you need to choose wisely the season you are travelling. Going out of the season can be a brilliant idea to avoid tourist crowds (especially when city-travelling) but also the reason why the holiday may not meet your expectations. Always, and I mean ALWAYS, check the weather forecast and get to know the season in the location you are thinking of travelling to. It doesn’t mean you are not going to have bad weather 100% but at least you know roughly what to expect. As me and Tom are both from quite cold countries (let’s say) then we never go to the Southern holidays during summer seasons. It may feel like a good idea but if you are planning to have an active vacation you need to have conditions that you are able to handle. Many people seek for 35+ degree weather without realising that you cannot spend much time outside with this kind of heat. Therefore, your expensive holiday could be ruined simply because you have travelled at the wrong time of the year. The same applies to rainy seasons. Don’t just buy cheap tickets but do a little research beforehand.

IMG_20151013_171933.jpg

Venice in October- out of season, but so worth it. It was cold but at least it wasn’t over crowded and smelly.

Now the third criteria is probably not in everyone’s list. As I mentioned Tom enjoys hiking. And I mean several days hiking not 3h walks. Therefore, all our trips are taking place in areas where are mountains. I love hiking but for sure not all the long ones he usually plans. I can manage a day or 2 but after that I want to come down, have a proper meal and drink and enjoy the sun. He still tries to convert me, though.

27999522_10204059722889319_2029011622_o.png

 

Now last but not least, tickets. So far we have managed to have all our trips in budget. Not just because we wait try to find cheap tickets but we sleep mostly in a tent. If you are not into that  you need to keep an eye on sales and offers. I do it in holidaypirates.com and Tom has his own sites (azair.eu).  If you have flexible job you can find amazing last minute deals. If not, you need to plan your vacations longer ahead and probably book them before the season. Getting better offers is another reason to go off the season. If you are on the budget but want to have a proper holiday, choose for the destination a country where staying (accomodation, food, drink, etc) is cheaper- if in Europe, then I would recommend Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland etc. It is also wise to stay out of touristic areas (near popular sightseeings or city centers) when choosing your accomodation. This way you can save money yet have a great vacation.

So as you can see, there is no real science behind our vacation planning. It is a combination of me chasing the sun and Tom chasing the mountains. So far we have managed to merge them.

Way of living- how not to f*** up the Earth

5 simple ways how to reduce your everyday waste.

Oeh. I didn’t even want to write a post about this but….. it just makes me so sad thinking of this issue and seeing people not caring and thinking it doesn’t affect them. As a passionate traveller and nature lover I feel that I need to say something. If you want to keep enjoying the views then listen! Here are 5 ways how to reduce your waste.

Living in UK and travelling around Europe has made me completely change the way I am living now. And the situation out of Europe is even worse! I was into healthy eating already back in Estonia but for sure I have made a lot more effort in being environmentally friendly since moving here. I guess when living in an environment where you don’t notice rubbish around you, you don’t even realise how big problem it is globally. They talk about it at school  but it doesn’t hit you until you come out of your little box and see it right in front of you- literal rivers of waste.

I am not even going to stop on recycling as this should be elementary. Drinking coffee every day from disposable cups, packing each of your items in separate bags or throwing a candy wrap on the ground. All this seems like a “little thing” but in reality it has a major impact. So…

Since I remember I have always tried to use as little plastic bags as possible. Seeing all the dirt on the streets and the amount of plastic packaging in supermarkets made me want to make even bigger effort. If you have an option to choose a product without any packaging/plastic then why shouldn’t you. People’s denial thinking that their ways don’t affect the environment is the reason why the ocean is getting polluted, streets are full of dirt and we are running out of clean water to drink. Change nr 1. A simple act as leaving the plastic bags to the store or preferring unpacked products will have a major impact on mentioned problems. I am not trying to play the savior of the Earth here but as we all are living here, shouldn’t we all be responsible as well? The whole year I have been buying fruits and vegetables without plastic packaging. If the shop doesn’t have the product opened I simply don’t buy any. I can survive another day without the carrots or tomatoes and can pick them up from somewhere else later.

_DSC0712.JPG

Some organic goodies I bought today.

The 2. change is mostly because of my boyfriend who thinks not only about the environment but also economy. Seeing people buy the tiniest boxes of fruit you can imagine makes me want to scream. How can someone be so arrogant and denial that you think it is a good idea? I have wrote this habit in my previous posts and still cannot believe. We, on the other hand, we have been buying food and products that we use every day in as large packs as possible. Everything like coconut, raisins, oats, nuts, lentils, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc, in stead of buying small packs weekly we buy one big one that lasts for months. Not only is it better for the environment but you don’t have to worry about shopping for weeks. Saving your precious time as well!

_DSC0692.JPG

 

The very first order of food in Manchester. The biggest one is coconut shreds. That batch from October has lasted us until now.

I must say I have given England a hard time about the pollution, even though, it is not all just negative. There are facebook and other social groups where people share, change, give away products they do not use or want. You can find food, drinks, furniture, clothes and footwear, beauty products, almost anything from there. People give away make up and beauty products that do not suit them but are not able to return either, food that they have cooked but are not able to finish by themselves before the due date, clothes and footwear that has been waiting to be worn for way too long.  Another simple way to limit wasting. We have tried it and given a new home to several packs of teas, chocolate drinks, bags of pears, and even 2kg of home made fruit cake. We drink a lot of tea and why not to try something else for a change while helping other people to avoid throwing away fine food. For a 3. change start a new habit in your area!

I remember when living in Estonia by myself, from time to time I had to throw food out. I had forgotten that I had something waiting in the fridge and by the time I remembered it had gone bad. The biggest reason behind it is that people tend to buy the whole fridge full of food. I am still lazy in that sense that I don’t want to cook every day so I prepare food for more than just one day. Yet, I have not had to throw away food at once. How? Change nr 4. One thing is just buying less food at once and planning your meals but another good trick is improvising when cooking. I know some people can cook only based on recipes but try changing the dishes up based on what you already have at home. You have some leftover veges? Cook soup! There is never too many things in vege soup. I bet all you chefs out there are cringing right now but I still do it.

The last thing has made me thinking just lately as I have never been a big online shopper. Of course it is so comfortable and easy to make a click and let someone bring the stuff behind your door but… I don’t even mind it as an act but the way it is organised. No one wants to take responsibility for broken items so everything you order is packed in big boxes full of paper or plastic. Your item in it takes maybe 25% of all the space. I would expect this from ignorant companies but would for sure hope that eco-friendly shops would make an effort in this as well. Last week I found an amazing online shop called https://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/ They have plenty of good organic healthy products. Not just food but household and beauty stuff as well. Within the first few minutes I already found bunch of stuff I wanted to try out as I am on a hunt for replacing or my non-organic and non-cruelty-free household and beauty products. As always before ordering from a new site I read the ordering reviews first. The feedback was shocking! People were crazy about the products but on the first page already at least 2-3 people mentioned excessive plastic packaging that came with ordered product. People who go to those sites are looking for an alternative for what consuming society offers. Do they really think that sending a box of plastic will not bother them? It should bother EVERYONE! So, I didn’t buy anything and here is an idea, a change nr 5. Can companies please start thinking about this?! Until then, please go and shop from stores (as much as possible) because saving your time will cost you a box full of unnecessary plastic.

Does it make sense? I think it does. If I didn’t manage to convince you then check just few clips from here or there. Well, I’m good we had that chat. If you are already on my “boat”, then thank you!

The Canaries vol3- Gran Canaria and Lanzarote

Last 2 paradise islands- free food and incredible nature.

Last but not least Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. As we had just 2 days in Lanzarote, I am not going to make a separate post about that. I hope I can just squeeze these 2 together into one (hopefully not a very long one).

As it is already a month and more since I came back, I must admit I am starting to loose the details and the tan. I remember arriving to Gran Canaria and realising that it might be even hotter and drier than the 2 islands before. We arrived early in the morning so we planned a 5h hike to start with. Before hitting the road we sat down in a restaurant near the track and made sure we have enough of energy for that. As it turned out the owner of the place was Czech so we were really treated like at home.

After eating too much again we started walking. Again I felt the need for a drink after every sip I took.  The whole way up to Pico de las Nieves (the highest peak on the island, 1949m) I was dreaming of a jar of fruity water with ice. The valley we walked through is called “Almond Valley” and you can guess why. ALMOND TREES EVERYWHERE. The Czech from the restaurant said they are going to collect the nuts in 2 weeks, but in some parts they should already be ready. Fresh almonds…. this is something. Otherwise the scenery looks very dry and deserty. Locals say the best time to visit the island is on rainy periods (from November) when the mountains are green and the rivers are full. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t see it but I guess that gives a reason to go back.

_DSC1085.JPG

Like you can imagine after all those hours I was so tired, but Tom had planned us to hit Roque Nublo on that day. That meant another 2-3h after hitting the highest peak. Fortunately the sun was going down and I convinced Tom to postpone it for the next day. It was one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. The amount of people driving up there for it will confirm it. If you are romantic, then this is something to experience with your partner. Perfect place for a proposal… just saying.

_DSC1120.JPG

After a night in the forest and another few hours of hike we reached Roque Nublo. Again such a touristic place. Good thing is that as you need to climb up there all lazy people will give up and not go. Yet hundreds of people make it. In my opinion Roque Nublo is slightly overrated, but it might be just because it was not the green season. I get then it would look amazing.

_DSC1124.JPG

The next 2 days we were simply driving around the island trying to see as much as possible. I felt a relief as all the hikes were done and now it was just the time for enjoying the sun and the ocean. The next stop was Maspalomas and the Sandy Dunes. The famous place with nudist beach, gay nudist beach and all different nudist beaches. You can see that you are close when naked people start passing your way. Well…. that’s also an experience. Otherwise the sandy dunes are very similar to the ones in Lithuania just little bigger. I really wanted to get some great pictures there, but I guess for very clean and untouched desert look I have to go to Africa. Too many people in Gran Canaria to do that.

_DSC1155.JPG

The third day we got lucky as one Romanian couple was going exactly where we wanted to and therefore drove us around the whole day. Very fun and generous couple. In the capital Las Palmas we decided to make a short break and get something to eat. As backpackers I wanted to get some local fast food. Just to try. As always when in need you cannot find anything. The Romanian couple sat down in a decent restaurant. After a 15min run we went back to the couple hungry as wolves. They had just finished and left at least half the plates full. As I mentioned before they were very generous so they offered us to finish the plates. I felt SO cheap, but as soon as I tasted the fish I forgot. It was sooooo good. I think the best seafood meals I have ever tried. And not just that I got full but great food did not get wasted. Before getting back to the car they insisted (well the female side did) of eating some frozen yogurt first. So now I had to finish that as well. Damn that was a good day.

_DSC1166.JPG

We spent the night in Teror and planned to continue the way towards the airport the next day. We wanted to take the small roads in valleys instead of the highway. Just to see more of the island. As the day before we ended up with the same driver for almost half of the day. He was a cheese seller that was delivering the products while also looking for new clients So on the way to the airport we had few small stops in villages. In one village we made a short lunch. We felt so bad for bothering him for so long that we bought him some beer. A small one as he was driving. He took out the whole round of cheese and that was our lunch. Fresh local cheese with cold local beer. Can this trip get any better?! As a gift (like he said) he gave us all the leftover. That means around 2kg of cheese and that is hell of a lot of cheese.

_DSC1200.JPG

We made it to the airport by the evening and as the flight went early in the morning we decided to sleep on the beach nearby. Unfortunately when reaching the beach it turned out to be the most polluted beach I have ever seen. For sure not sleeping on that. Instead we walked towards the airport and put the tent up between the palm trees there.

AND THE LAST ISLAND

In Lanzarote we had just 2 days. During those 2 days we visited just 2 cities- Playa Blanca and the capital Arrecife. I kinda liked Playa Balnca, but it is way too touristic to be on top of my list. I had the famous barraquito. In Gran Canaria they served me a coffee with tons of liqoir as canarian coffee so I was a little scared. Barraquito is a milk coffee with condensed milk. So heavy so good, so not vegan.

_DSC1201.JPG

Lanzarote is the most different of them all. It looks like it’s abandoned as there are no trees, just lava fields. On our way to the volcanos we stopped on a beach near salty lake. The waves were the highest I have ever seen. And that means so high that you cannot go in the water, it will just push you right back on the beach and pour the sand in your pants while doing that. Yet I enjoyed that small black sanded beach a lot. Now when sitting in Manchester I really miss being on the beach :/. That is my happy place for sure.

_DSC1268.JPG

The next day we decided to walk to the biggest crater there is. We managed to leave our bags in one of the driver’s car so walking went a lot faster. On the top of crater it is a nice view but so windy that my fear of heights kicked in right away. Therefore I was the first one to be back. The couple who was driving us there said they are crazy about volcanos and basically travel only to places to see volcanos. The woman gave a handful of “crystals” she found on the way. I guess she knows where to find them because I saw nothing like that on my way.

_DSC1261.JPG

On our way the airport we had few more stops with amazing views. One of them to a very small island near Lanzarote. A-MAZING. I really fish we had some more time for laying on the beach there. Before getting on the plane we had a little detour in the capital Arracife. And to be honest nothing special. Town like any other town. So I am not going to even waste the space here on that. The extensions of the town are, on the other hand, spectacular. Look a little too touristic and fancy, but so nice and clean. What’s not to like in clean.

_DSC1302.JPG

I guess if I had to choose, I would recommend visiting Tenerife and Lanzarote. In that way you can see all the different landscapes the islands are offering. For just a beach holiday you can visit any of them. If you are not a fan of hot weather, don’t go before October. Local food is amazing so whenever you go, make sure you try it!

So that was all about my hot summer vacation in paradise.  Whenever I am on the beach and looking the sunset I want to drink wine, dance and celebrate life. I don’t know any better romantic song than this so LENTO it is. I swear if I close my eyes I can hear the waves and smell the ocean!

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.

_DSC0969.JPG

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.

_DSC0995.JPG

 

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.

_DSC1013.JPG

_DSC1021.JPG

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.

_DSC1043.JPG

_DSC1071

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.

_DSC0725.JPG

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.

21951753_10203592168240745_1492393682_o.jpg

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!

_DSC0766.JPG

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.

_DSC0877.JPG

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.

_DSC0909.JPG

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.

_DSC0957.JPG

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.

_DSC0963.JPG

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.

kaart.png

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.

20907321_10203475453362946_661408541_o.jpg

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.

20930948_10203475453202942_1996048_o

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.

20930593_10203475451842908_104552084_o.jpg

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.

20907108_10203475451602902_1015831352_o.jpg

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

20930365_10203475451682904_1478673522_o

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?!

20945474_10203475451002887_1442479530_o20906941_10203475450922885_1159680534_o.jpg

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.

20907281_10203475452762931_2067377787_o

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!

20945609_10203475453322945_876145706_o

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.

South of England aka the hardest biking ever

Me, camera, my bike and the Sun.

Hei, You, You and You! I have been promising a review of my Southern England trip already for a while and for some reason life has taken over and it is still not done. Well now I am sitting down to talk about the most difficult biking I have ever had to do.

So we thought it would be a good idea to spend a long weekend in South of England WITH BIKES. At first Tom planned it as a 2-3 day biking trip… Khmm. I am everything but a biker. My ass gets sore after first 40km and then I don’t want to even see those 2 tires for a month.

So we drove to the South with the car, left it in a parking place, threw our bags over shoulders and put up a tent. I think it was the most romantic night in my life. Full moon lighted the whole empty beach, night was warm and calm. Perfect time to spend the night under the stars.

Yes this is Moon shining bright like a diamond. We even had shadows?! At night?!

The next day we were supposed to start the “long” biking trip. From the map the cliffs don’t seem as steep and high as they are. So for our surprise they were damn difficult to cycle. 70% of the track I was pushing my bike. I managed to bike downhill with brakes on, but that was about it. The first day started with clouds and for sure not as hot as the previous night so I didn’t really think of even getting my sunscreen out. Before leaving my mom had left me a message to be careful with the sun… hah.. which sun?! But MOMS ALWAYS KNOW BETTER!

It was about mid day when the sun came out and was shining damn bright. I am such a fan of sun so I never mind. The cliffs where AMAZING. The views are just fantastic. So you can imagine how many people were walking around there. The closer you got to some hut or a resting place, the more crowded it got. Although, taking a bike with was still a bad idea. After like 2-3 hours of pushing my bike uphill with the sun burning as hell, I was sure I am not going to sit on that bike tomorrow. My shoulders were burnt, couldn’t even touch them. And I don’t get sunburnt…. ever. So how did that happen I don’t know. Even my nose was peeling days after.

_DSC0963.JPG

When ask other people to take a picture…. Let’s say it’s okay.

As I said, I didn’t hop on the bike net day. We drove the car a bit further and put the tent up on the beach again. I experienced the perfect morning for me. I woke up at 7am… just like that. Put my bikinis on and went swimming. The water was cold enough to need time to go in, but warm enough to stay there. After refreshing and cooling swim I decided to try to meditate as this was the perfect surrounding. I sat there for about half an h… just me and the ocean breeze, thinking that I want to wake up like this every single morning. If I only had a good cup of coffee right there as well…. that, my friend, would have been a paradise.

_DSC0993.JPG

So peaceful, so calm.

So we didn’t bike this trip any more. We decided to go home sooner as were both red as crabs. On our way back I insisted on going to 2 places. First stop Arundel castle. This giant castle looks exactly like from a fairy tale. I didn’t want to pay half of my salary on simply getting in, so I bought a ticket to the gardens only. I had seen some pics of it and I wanted to create my own. Tom didn’t come of course, so this view was just for me and my camera. First time I remembered to take my tripod with and for some reason, people think that this shows that I know what I am doing…..Well I don’t. At least 2-3 people asked me to take a picture of them….. cause it would be professional…. Sure. I did tell them that I am not a photographer, but…. You know people. I tried to stay in shadows the whole time because by that time my skin was on fire. I don’t eve remember the last time I felt so much pain because of sun. If it hurts then it loves?

_DSC1002.JPG

Can You believe it?! I do need to buy some equipment as  taking picture in sunlight is way too much for this camera. Maybe I don’t know all the tricks, but long exposure is out. Check rest of the pictures of the garden from my photography section.

The last stop, but not least was a lavender field. Another thing I saw on the internet and wanted to experience by myself. We picked a field in Lordington as it seemed that they do not ask too much money for the visit. When arriving it came out that the “season” is not even started and the farm is closed. The field was available only for photo shoots with photographers. I believe in kindness and we decided to ask to stay anyway. For a pleasant surprise they didn’t mind me taking few pictures from the other corner of the field while photographers were calmly giving introductions for kids running around on the field. I was amazed. Who doesn’t know, then purple is my damn favourite colour and there was a loooooot of purple. One little ginger girl even wanted to pose for me. As I can see from my pics, I need to take more pictures of people, cause I am not pleased. Yet, how cute is that.

_DSC1103.JPG

And that was about it for the this time. If you are thinking of visiting England then the White Cliffs are worth it! 😉 P.S The pictures of other places are up as well!

I have to find some time to write, cause I have already another trip to tell You about. 4 days ago I came back from Ireland and I am soooooooo excited to tell You about it. After a long time we tried the hitchhiking again and man, how easy it in Ireland. I cannot wait to write You about it. But his time, cheers, for everyone who still keeps reading my blog ;). I really appreciate it!

For the song of the post I chose something that makes me feel good, makes me want to dance, makes we want to jump into the ocean.