NORWAY 🇳🇴 series part 4: Lost and found

Getting lost in the mountains and wonderfully generous people.

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As always right before you need something, it breaks. So that’s what happened to the hiking poles. So now I had just one pole to climb the damn mountain. I left the other one down near the tent stucked in the soil.

As always the further up you climb the mountain the less people you meet. Again my magic boots helped me to do the tempo so we passed like 3 couples on our way up. Yeah that’s how competitive I am. It was one of the rockiest hikes we have done so far but kind of suited me. It was so hot while hiking but as soon as you stopped the wind got the best of you. I guess it’s kind of good way to keep you going and not waste too much time on resting.

While I was enjoying going up then whenever we had to go a little downhill I was thinking ‘oh sh**, I’m going to break my neck’. And of course I managed to slip and fall on the rocks. I sprained my ankle and fell between the rocks. I was lying there in an awkward position, my ass up in the sky and all I could think was ‘Now I am in the middle of nowhere, about 2h hike away from the closest road…. I cannot break any bones in here’. Well fortunately, that was a bit dramatic as I didn’t really break anything. Just a little scratch here and there, nothing major, but still. Why me?!

We made it to the top… well almost to the top as for the highest peak of the mountain you had to literally climb the ridge. And everyone knows even if it was safe I could never do that. So we stayed where everyone else was, down on the plateau. And there were way more people in the top than I expected. As always, Tom heard some Czech and started talking to them. It turned out to be a bus full of Czechs climbing some mountains around Norway. And again they insisted on taking a picture of us. Well, why not, I guess.

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So far no knee pain, passing all the people on the way, I was more than confident. Tom decided to take a little detour down and get some fresh water while I was supposed to just follow the track and continue the way down. As I knew approximately where to go, I decided to not follow the signs and just go with the flow… Yeah, worst idea ever. While I was focusing on passing people and doing it as fast as I could…. just because I could I got lost. Suddenly I was on the edge of the mountain, nowhere to go. Not a good feeling when scared of heights, I must say. Fortunately, going back just a little bit was enough to find the track again. I was really scared for one second, though. But I guess I am one of those people who just don’t learn from their mistakes from the first time. So I made the same stupid mistake when trying to find the car park. The track led to a tiny road by a cliff and I was ‘hell no, I ain’t going there!’. So I decided to go up and take a detour by myself… and managed to get lost again. What the hell?! How is it possible? I can see the car park but for some reason all the tracks are leading pass it. How am I supposed to get down then? So I just made my own track, wondering around like a lost lamb. If I didn’t have the magic boots I guess I would have had to make that 3km detour, go to the tent and get to the car park from the road, which was RIGHT THERE. Unbelievable! Now I was pissed, tired, hungry and hoped the toilet will not have 10minute queue. It didn’t. I drank some fresh water, hugged my tour guide (who I apparently need by my side 24/7 in order not to get lost) and it was all forgotten.

We packed the tent and hitchhiked further. We got the lift pretty fast which was nice. While driving down I noticed a traffic jam on the road. So this is what happened. If you  have been in any mountainous area you know the roads there. The same bus full of Czechs got stuck on one of the turns. Not sure if something happened to the bus or the driver simply didn’t know how to take those sharp turns. The bus was stuck in the middle of the turn causing a huge amount of cars waiting behind it. I think we were waiting like at least for 15-20 minutes before we managed to get further. Fortunately, as soon as the driver kicked everyone out of the bus he dared to take the turn and keep driving.

I guess we had been way too lucky for the day as it started raining…. well pouring. A German couple gave us a ride and let us hide in their camper van until their ferry arrived. After they took off we decided to have a dinner in the little waiting hut in the port. I wanted to use the chance and wash my hair and face in the sink. You would be surprised how nice that can be. Okay, this is something I need other people’s help. Especially the ones that are not born with perfect skin. How do you keep your face clean? Mine just hates me for not keeping the regime on the road and shows it off BIG TIME. I really hope it is just my stupidity and not the price I need to pay for travelling. HELP!

As soon as we saw another ferry coming in we decided to pack and try to catch a lift further. No one stopped although it was raining. We had been out for couple of minutes and I was already soaking wet. No one stopped until the last car from the port passed us and then reversed back. It was a local farmer with her daughter. One of the nicest people we have met on the road. They insisted us staying at their house as it was pouring rain outside. How nice was that?! First time during this trip we had a shower. Shame I had just washed my hair in the sink. We spent the whole night just talking and discussing all the issues going on in the world and sharing our travel stories. The amazing hot tea, good company and warm room made it perfect. I guess it was like in a movie or how you imagine hitchhiking to be. You meet a stranger and you get along right away and they are just way too generous by turning a hitchhiking trip to a full comfort trip. As you can imagine I slept like a baby that night. In the morning she even showed us around in the valley. Woods and everything. I must say, not a bad place to live in. Not bad at all.

Although the morning started well we got stuck on the road nearby. Waited for the next lift for an hour or more. Next 2 days were dedicated again simply to hitchhiking. Meeting lots of awesome people and having long conversations. You would be surprised how close you get with strangers when spending couple of hours together. In one of the cars we spent half a day and got to know the guys so well that I forgot that we just met. We cooked together, shared our experience and opinions about travelling, Norway, studying, life etc. We shared the food. That’s how close you can get with someone you barely know if you just give them a chance.

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When we arrived to Mo i Rana we did decide to take the coastal road as every single (local) person suggested that. Was it nice? Yes. Was it worth double amount of time spent on driving? I am not sure. Maybe my lack of excitement was because of the weather and the fact you couldn’t really see much through the fog. Anyways, if you really wanna see EVERYTHING, go take the coastal road from Mo i Rana to Lofoten, otherwise if you reach Lofoten from the highway, you haven’t missed out on anything.

LAST STOP LOFOTEN!

To be continued…

NORWAY 🇳🇴 series part 3: ‘Picture perfect’

Dumpster diving, fjords and all those views!

Last post I was referring to one of my favourite places I have ever hiked. Before sharing you the spectacular view we need to go back half a day.

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We got a lift from a really nice guy living in a village near Molden. From the spot we put the tent up you could see the fjord, mountains, waterfall, light from the village nearby and what is more, the sunset. It was one of the nicest evenings. Not just because we had the perfect camping spot but we got lots of FREE food.

Here you go, trick from the poors’ sleeve nr 3: Dumpster diving. Yes, you heard me right. I know this is very controversial subject and to be honest, I am probably not the right person to tell this or share the experience but I can just introduce you what options you have while travelling on a budget.  Dumpster diving in Scandinavia and dumpster diving in Poland probably will be completely different experiences but can save you LOTS OF MONEY either way. I am quite a picky eater when it comes to expiry dates. However, in Norway I saw a completely different aspect of it. That night Tom came back from the bins behind the shops with 5 Bolognese sauces and they were NOT expired, not opened, not gone bad, nothing. One out of 6 in the pack had broken and they threw away the whole box. We have also found some bread, cheese and ham, smoked fish, juice, all sealed and fine. Sometimes just expired today, yesterday or usually not even close to the expiry date.

My first step was to just be willing to eat the food from a bin. It sounds disgusting if you put it that way but why not if you can literally see, there is nothing wrong with it. I am still not eating food that is a bit iffy, especially meat products (another phobia I have) and you do need to be cautious in order not to get any food poisoning. I have never really dumpster dove myself, I have my own diver with me. I don’t think it’s weird or wrong but I am not there yet to do it myself. Seeing how much perfectly fine food people throw out (especially shops) makes me rethink about everything I thought I knew. People are starving in every single country in the world and shops just throw out food like it’s noone’s business. WHY? Because we take the expiry dates and other dates as something they are not. Among many others National Geographic has an article about this as well, showing how much food and money America wastes every year because people do not understand that expiry date shows quality but not safety. They claim that the smell/look/taste gives you better idea about the safety of the food than an expiry date. So here you go.

Tom also found a beach chair next to the bin and insisted carrying it around the whole time… GREAT! So in the morning we took off with a whole bunch of food AND a beach chair. We got a lift by a taxi driver who recommended having a hike in the mountain nearby. Meeting another couple suggesting to hike Molden, we decided, why not. We got dropped off at the car park in the woods. It was supposed to be just couple of hour hike so we decided to leave the bags in the woods near the car park. This couple of hours up and couple of hours down is the best length of a hike for me. It doesn’t tire or bore you too much but is enough to experience amazing views.

Already on our way up we saw nice blackberries and blueberries waiting someone (us) to pick them up. On the first viewpoint I was already blown away. WOW! The way the woods made the mountains look so exotic! Well just look at that! The mountains, fjords, boats, woods… WOW!

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I have noticed that I like the views half way up better than on the very top. The mountains look closer and I think the pictures are better as well. What do you think?

Like in Gausta, I was running down like a goat. Half way down we decided to fill all our boxes with blueberries as they were so big and juicy. We even made couple of other people follow our lead and do the same. When we reached blackberries Tom got a little carried away and I was too thirsty to wait for him so I decided to go to the bags by myself. While I was walking down towards the car park I heard some crazy noise from the woods. I saw something black flashing between the trees and I just froze. Is it a bear??? What am I supposed to do now? Run? Stay still? Oh sh**! As I was about to make the fastest sprint I have ever done in my life the ‘something black’ came out from the woods. Yeah, it wasn’t a bear… It was a cow. The damn cow was doing… I don’t know what in there but for sure it did not sound like a cow. Yeah, seems like cows don’t really like me.

Down from Gausta, next stop… well as far on the way to Lofoten as possible. That means the next couple of days on the road again. we chose to hitchhike up to Lofoten from the main road until Mo i Rana and then take the longer but much recommended coastal road.

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One of the views on the road to our camping site.

That evening we made it to Skei. We slept on a piece of grass by the fjord. Amazing view! Was not as private as one would like but perfectly peaceful and calm. In this part of Norway all the drivers seemed to be especially generous and interested in showing us around. They don’t just tell you what to see but also are willing to make stops and walk around with you. One guy even introduced us all of the people living in the valley. Yeah…

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They even insisted taking pictures of us.. which we never do unless someone offers and I don’t want to be impolite. So whenever I post a ‘couple’s picture’ know it was not planned!

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The best part of the fjords. It looks soooooooo amazing with the mountains and ships and all that jazz. One thing (a bit scary) in all this is having an emergency on the road. We saw an ambulance trying to pass on the road and it took forever just to take one turn. That is scary! People don’t really realise that it’s not a random guy trying to make it to work on time in the morning. Unfortunately, that’s how they respond, stopping in the middle of the road, keep driving and that’s why it takes forever to just pass one damn turn.

After most of the day in a car and rest in a ferry we made it to Trollstigen. And first time ever we were not the only ones with a tent. How I got lost on that mountain… twice and how we got saved by a farmer you can read from the next post!

 

To be continued…

NORWAY 🇳🇴 series part 1: ‘Day one’

New boots, fear of heights and the budget!

I cannot believe how long it has been since I last sat down and wrote something. Not even going try to explain why. Let’s put it that way- life happened.

Anyways, I am now back in UK, back in routine and am ready to tell you all about my last holiday in NORWAY. I am going to make it into a short series as there is simply too much to tell and that post is going to be way too long otherwise.

So where to start? Oh yeah, from the beginning.

I have always thought that Norway would be a country I would really really enjoy. Not just as a tourist but I believed I could even live there. Why? I am not sure. Maybe it’s just an intuition, maybe I’m a psychic, maybe because I like cold winters.  I really don’t know. It was my first time going there and I was already like… 90% sure I am going to love it. I guess by the end of this series I will let you know weather I was a psychic or not at all.

It all started with a flight from Manchester to Oslo. I was flying alone this time as Tom wanted to hitchhike all the way to Norway to save money but I refused to waste half of my vacation on travelling to the destination. Yes, it was not the cheapest flight I have ever booked but considering it’s Norway, I guess it could have been even worse. I know people travelling up there for 8 quid, so bargain hunters, do not burry your dreams just yet! I tried to mentally prepare myself for 2 weeks of starving. Norway has been my dream destination but let’s be honest I do not have money to have a luxurious.. who am I kidding, not a luxurious, a decent holiday in Scandinavia. As always we wanted to see as much as possible and spend as little as possible. Usually 500 pounds for 2 weeks has been enough but can you do it in Norway?

We met in Oslo on Tuesday evening and planned to stay for 2 weeks, hitchhiking all the way from Oslo up to Lofoten. It was unexpectedly hot when I arrived. I guess this summer has been unexpectedly hot everywhere in Europe. It’s been hot even in Manchester…. in the city of rain. We spent the night in the tent nearby the airport. I was a bit scared that there is not going to be anywhere to put up the tent or like in Canary islands, it will be in the dirt. This is the last thing you want- start your vacation in the middle of garbage. Fortunately, that was not the case. It is still Scandinavia we are talking about. We found some fine grass near a pavement under the birches. Was not very private, but good enough for a couple of hour sleep.

We took off the next morning, again with sun shining and giving us hope to get far up towards the fjords. While waiting for the first ride near the airport a girl came up to us and offered 2 (almost full) pumps of camping gas. We knew we are going to need it up in the North, so it was more than perfect timing. What is more, no wasting! Hitchhiking in Northern Europe is said to be considerably easy. Unfortunately, the first half an hour did not make me feel this way. We were trying different spots on a roundabout until decided we need to walk further as clearly noone is stopping. As soon as we picked our bags and started walking we got a lift. I may need to make entire post about hitchhiking in Scandinavia to explain it but it seemed like whenever you carry the bag people were willing to stop more often.

*Damn… I think I need to write these posts right after I’m back from the holiday as I already start forgetting the details- which driver, when, how far?

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Well, we managed to end up at Gausta mountain by the evening. We decided to take a little hike up to the top before putting the tent up. First time ever I was sooooooo excited as I had just invested my money into a pair of new hiking boots. After suffering from tremendous knee pain on every hike I decided enough is enough and bought a pair of Meindls. Yes, unfortunately, not a vegan brand but I really needed the pair and had very limited time and options. I am going to take a good care of these and hopefully wear them forever…. well I guess not forever but as long as I am able to hike. I am definitely not planning to purchase another non-vegan ones. Maybe by the time I need new ones (far far faaaar in the future) they have better variety of vegan ones. So, there I was with my new pair of hiking boots, climbing the mountain like a goat. I honestly did not expect the difference to be that major.

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Despite the comfort, I didn’t go all the way up, though. The very last bit of this mountain looked extremely narrow and because of the wind the fear of heights got the best of me. I decided to go back down and let Tom climb the last bit on his own. I hate when that happens. I am always scared I’m going to miss out the best views because of a stupid fear. Anyone with a serious phobia or fear can relate. I want to go but I don’t. I am not a psychologist and I don’t know how to properly treat an irrational fear. All psychologist-friends, HELP! Among all my stupid fears heights is the one I really want to get rid of. And so far the best way has been getting myself into the situations where the outcome of overcoming the fear will remain as a picture to remind me that the fear is not the boss of me. I am. Unfortunately, days are not the same and that day was not The Day.

On my way down I over took all the people I met when going up, feeling no pain in the knees, whatsoever. I felt like flying. The very last couple of hundred meters I did feel  the fatigue but not the pain. Of course Tom managed to catch me before the finish line despite my magic boots. But usually he does it way faster so I am still pretty proud of myself. Jeeei! Go me! The first night we spent under the stars near Gausta. We put the tent up on moss which is the softest bed ever. I had a very good night sleep that night.

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Next day, before hitting the road we decided to take most of the nature and filled our boxes with fresh blueberries. DE-LISH! I think we really nailed the season as there were so many berries to pick. What’s better than fresh berries when on a budget?! Especially in Norway where everything is SO, SO, SO expensive. Fortunately, not waiting long for the first ride. We got a lift by a local down to the valley. He was driving so fast down that I must admit I was a little uncomfortable. Not because I thought he’s going to crash the car or something but it just made me feel sick. Plus the fear of heights did not help either. We made it down safely (I promise, mom!)! We decided to check the local shop before hitchhiking further. You know that feeling when you just had an amazing hike, good night sleep, fresh berries, and then the reality check just shakes you. Shakes you hard! We managed to find a -50% aisle, something vital when travelling in Norway, Iceland or Switzerland. My sweet tooth was on fire as the only thing we bought was 2 chocolate cakes, each 3 quid…. Yea, not cheap even when -50% but they were so worth the money. I was craving for coffee and a salad as well but I had to punch that b*tch down right after seeing the prices. How to explain it? England is expensive but with a full time job you can afford butter on the bread. In Norway, with British salary you cannot even afford to smell the bread, with Eastern Europe salary you forget what bread is. Well, one needs just love, air and water to survive anyways, right?! You must be wondering how many kilos did I loose on that trip, well….. Not much. How? Well first, because I just said we bought 2 cakes for lunch but we also had some tricks ready to be pulled out from our  poor sleeves.

 

                                                            To be continued…

Oh, before I let you go, I have already uploaded some pictures of the trip. Not just the day one but through out the entire trip, Go check them out as well!

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.

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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.

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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.

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 II

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

It is time for 2nd island- LA PALMA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Canary Islands part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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