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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

Weird pictures vol 2 aka Italy

The second part of series “Weird pictures from…”.
This time we stop in Italy.

Long time no see. I am sorry for not keeping You up to date, but I had a little vacation at home and time just flies faster than I can write.

A little catch up will come soon, but in this post I would like to share some more funny pics I have taken on my trips. The last part of this series was made of pictures taken in England, so this time I would show you some other part of Europe.

Let’s make the first stop in Italy- one of my favorite places to travel to. I have been to Italy 3 times and without an exception, I have seen some weird stuff EVERY SINGLE TIME.

*Some of the pictures are taken with a phone (from “no camera period”) so quality might be not so good.

The first pictures is taken in Milan.

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Someone has really made an effort. I think it looks good.

This one is taken from Genova at the same trip.

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I have no idea how this kind of marketing should work, but…. I don’t think it is sending the right message. But what do I know, right!

I do have to say that Venice fascinates me. For me it is just so weird to think that you order yourself a boat for a ride, or you can literally fall in the water when missing a step on a street.

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I guess this is not very drunk-people friendly. so let’s learn how to swim, before visiting Venice, okay?!

THE symbol of Italy- motorbikes. You think that they are exaggerating in movies with the rollers. IMG_20151008_152101.jpg

Yeah, they are not. You can see on the backround some more bikes. They are in rows of 7 and literally parked so full that I cannot imagine getting one out right from the middle.

The next one is taken on my hiking trip through the Alps. In one of my favorite cities Verona.

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The thing was moving…. Is that not a bit too weird to be meant for kids? Okay, just me then.

I absolutely love the vibe of Verona but what is that?

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I understand the whole thing with romance and stuff…. but a love letter on a plaster?! A bit too much.

And last but not least- Livigno.

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Amazing place for doing sports and setting your goals up high. The greed of people is  real. Always wanting a bigger one.

That is it for today. I hope you enjoyed at least one of them because I had a lot of fun taking them. As this is dedicated to Italy let’s end it with an Italian note as well. I guess there is only one song to end this with. For good old times and people spending some amazing time in Sicily with me years ago! Buongiorno!

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!

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.