fun story iceland

How long is 24 hours

A moment lived in Iceland by SiDash Travels, a traveling couple from the United Kingdom.
When travelling, one day can pass too quickly. After anticipating something for so long, time often comes and goes faster than we’d like.
Unfortunately, travel has its dark periods too, and sometimes a mere 24 hours can feel nearly endless.
We experienced both sides of travel’s time-bending phenomena during our recent trip to Iceland.
On one particular morning, the snow was coating the streets, and we could hear a storm whistling through the windows.
We bundled up and scarfed down a warm breakfast, eagerly looking forward to our day at the Blue Lagoon.
It was the last day of our holiday, and we were going to spend it being pampered at the world’s most famous thermal pool.

On our way to the hot pools!

Our flight was early the next day, so we decided to save some money by not booking a hotel room for the next night. We’d just catch a few hours of sleep at the airport before it was time to board.
If the universe occasionally foreshadows trials ahead, maybe this was a sign: As we gathered our belongings, Kristin somehow managed to throw her phone across the room.
We swear it happened in slow motion, but we couldn’t move to stop it – and the phone soared right out our 3rd story window.
To say we are a bit addicted to our phones and social media is an understatement. We are bloggers, after all. Kristin was in a panic but the phone had survived by landing in a soft pile of snow. On with the day.
On our bus ride to the lagoon, we couldn’t believe our luck. The views were absolutely stunning covered in snow. We knew the lagoon was going to be cozy and surreal with this storm on our side.
Sure enough, it was heaven. We sank into the outdoor thermal pools, glasses of white wine in hand, and enjoyed many hours of relaxation as the snow fell lightly around us.
Before we knew it, the day had passed and the lagoon was closing. Warm and happy, we went back to the changing rooms to prepare for the next leg of our journey.
Here’s where everything turned.

The unexpected…

We still had an open tab with the bar for our wine, so I started digging in my bag for my wallet.
Gone!
All of my money, bank cards… All gone. I suddenly remembered putting my wallet in the bus seat’s pocket. It’s weird how we react in these moments. I was mostly consumed with grief that I had lost something I’d owned since I was 16 years old.
Kristin’s concerns were more practical. First, that we couldn’t pay our bar tab. Second, that we couldn’t pay for our transportation to the airport. Third, that we’d just lost a huge amount of cash that we absolutely had to have for our next few weeks in England. Finally, that the last bus to Reykjavik was leaving in 20 minutes. We had very limited time to find solutions to all these problems.
We will always be thankful for the customer service at the Blue Lagoon for handling our situation with such compassion. They covered our bill for us, tracked down the bus where we’d left the wallet, and helped us make arrangements to pick the wallet up once we were back in Reykjavik.
We were saved, but stress levels were understandably high.
What was the last thing we wanted at this point? A night without a bed. But that’s exactly what was waiting for us.
Especially when that plan also fell to pieces.
By the time we were back in the city, wallet in hand, there were no more buses to the airport until morning.
Instead of spending our homeless night in a relatively comfy airport (with cushioned seats and a working heater), we slept in a cold, uncomfortable, drafty bus station.

We settled in for a long wait in the middle of a fierce blizzard – had we really been thankful for this weather just a few hours before?
When we finally arrived at the airport, our muscles were screaming, our faces were sore from the cold, and we hadn’t slept a wink.
We were a little overexcited to finally be in a warm building, but that euphoria was short lived.
Because remember that blizzard? Of course, it had delayed our flight.

Worse and worse

It delayed our flight for SIX HOURS.
The delay was so long that we missed the bus we had nonrefundable tickets for in London.
And by the time we finally reached that beautiful, coveted, blessing of a bed in Northern England, we had been awake for 36 hours straight.
In the morning, we reflected on the day before.
And we concluded that we genuinely love the adventures that make up our travelling lives. The world can throw any disaster at us, and we’ll still want to explore its every nook and cranny. We are addicted to the thrill of mixed emotions, and we’re fascinated by how much you can really experience in just one day.

The result? A great memory!

Here’s the truth: the best parts of travelling are those moments when you think ‘WHY?’
You won’t remember many details from seeing the famous Blue Lagoon; you’ll remember every slow second of the night you slept in a bus station during an arctic Icelandic blizzard. They create your most hilarious stories and you will laugh about them for years to come

This traveler has a blog: SiDash Travels

credit photo: SiDash Travels
Turkey Ephesus

Turkish Delights…Sun, Surf, Sand…and History

A moment lived in Turkey by Life…One Big Aventure, a traveler from Australia

My promise…

I cannot tell a lie. I broke a promise.

The promise was that this holiday would be just that – a holiday. No ruins, no museums, no cultural sites or sights. But, a visit Turkey? How could I possibly resist their siren call?

2003 was a busy year living and working in England, as well as absorbing the abundant history and culture of Europe. What we really needed was a ‘fly and flop’ holiday, and a package tour to the resort town of Marmaris on the Turkish coast was just what the doctor ordered, and the kids demanded.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect before we arrived, which I guess, is the best way to approach a new destination. What really knocked our socks off was the ‘Englification’ of a Turkish town. Wherever we walked we were assailed by touts promising us ‘real’ Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding dinners in a GENUINE English pub, or LIVE English Premier League soccer. These cultural meccas were frequently populated with a vast assortment of baked and sunburnt, over-weight Englishmen, swigging from pints (or cans) of English bitter.

At first glance, this made our previous holidays full of ruins and museums look pretty damn attractive! But, undeterred, we were determined to enjoy ourselves and try to discover a little of the real Turkey.

…and my efforts to keep it

Catching a dolmus (minibus) from our hotel to the beach to join the beautiful people, the kids were more than ready to frolic in the Mediterranean. Imagine our surprise as we spread our towels on the sand, to be pounced on by an officious attendant and duly informed that, we must move because the beach was reserved for chairs! Yes, we could stay if we were prepared to pay 4 000 000 lira for each chair. Disgusted, we gathered up our towels, all the while muttering under our breath how this would never happen in Australia, what was the world coming to, etc., etc.

As the sun-kissed week wore on, I became increasingly guilty that I wasn’t doing enough or making the most of my time in Turkey. The kids couldn’t have cared less as they returned water-logged and prune-like after yet another full-day in the hotel pool and on the neighboring water slide.

I tried to resist, but I was continually tempted by the touts as we strolled the promenade. Not by their generous offers of roast beef and soccer of course, but by the lure of cruising around the local bays and islands, and day tours to Ephesus. I ‘kicked tyres’ and compared prices, but was staying strong until we came across Outback Travel and Tours! Yes, the Outback in Turkey!

This mystery was too enticing not to explore, and we soon met the proprietor, a long-term resident of Parramatta (a suburb of Sydney)! He embraced us as long lost family and did all manner of deals and discounts to ensure our stay was a memorable one. Yes, I admit I was probably suckered in, but importantly, he gave us the best recommendations of where we could enjoy authentic local Turkish food. At last, we felt like we were experiencing a new culture.

Ephesus

Unsurprisingly, I succumbed to the honey-tongue of our new best friend, the Turk-Oz travel agent, and we were soon on a bus heading to Ephesus. Ephesus was established in the 10th century BC and has been destroyed, by both war and earthquake, and re-built a number of times since then. Serious and sustained archaeological excavation of the town started in 1895, after a few false starts in the 1860s did not lead to substantial discoveries.

The façade of the Celsus Library has been carefully reconstructed from its original pieces. It was built around 125AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, an Ancient Greek who served as governor of Roman Asia (105–107AD). Celsus paid for the construction of the library with his own personal wealth and is buried in a sarcophagus beneath it. The library once held nearly 12 000 scrolls and faces due east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Grand Theatre, with an estimated 25 000 seating capacity, is believed to have been the largest in the ancient world. It was used initially for drama performances, but during Roman times, gladiatorial combats were held on its stage. It is also believed to be one of the key sites that the Apostle Paul used, to spread the gospel.

While they possibly wouldn’t admit it, I think the rest of the family enjoyed Ephesus as much as I did. And soon afterward, a long hot day of history was drowned in the hotel pool.

Yes, I broke my promise, but it was for their own good, and I only had their education and enrichment in mind.

Does that sound believable??

This traveler has a blog: Life…One Big Adventure

credit photo: Life…One Big Adventure

 

Glacier Norway

What happens when you turn a corner in Norway!

A moment lived in Norway by Georgina Mckimm, a traveler from United Kingdom

On February 22nd 2016, I moved into my VW Caddy and have been living in it ever since. One Van and No Plan is literally what it says on the tin! I live in my van (Callie the Caddy) and just take each day as it comes. Check out what I have learned and experience along the way!

Heading down from Bodo after spending a memorable few days in Saltstraumen, the plan was to head to the ferry then down towards the south of Norway, but when you turn a corner and there is a f***ing Glacier in front of you! Your plans change!

Parking up opposite the Svartisen Glacier it then becomes my sole mission in life to touch it! Now you could have done the touristy thing and grabbed the boat over to the other side for 150 NOK (15quid ish) but why pay for something when you can get there for free! So what I thought was going to be roughly a half an hour Kayak turned out to be a good hour +. Not that I minded as Kayaking around Norwegian Fjord is an awesome way to really understand the sheer size and beauty of them!  (check out the video of the Kayak over here)

After reaching the shoreline and hiding my bright Green kayak in the reeds I set off on what looks like an hour ish walk to the Glacier! Again I am seriously not good at judging these timings! Heading towards the Glacier and stumbling across two moose on the way is always an added bonus! Getting to the lake at the bottom of the glacier was stunning and you could really start to understand the sheer size of it! I was mesmerized back at the Van, let’s just say I was like a kid at Christmas!

The sunshine was now out in full force, having set of prepared for a day of cloud and rain a walk to the glacier in my full-length wetsuit was beginning to look like a bad idea! The walk around the lake was stunning, waterfalls falling from all around the glaciers shimmering in the sun through the trees. Tiny little streams trickling underfoot! Once you make it around the lake you get hit with a choice, you can follow the red or blue route up to the glacier! I did the obvious thing and choose red for Man Utd!

So off I scramble up the rocks, halfway up the red route you are hit with pretty much a vertical climb. Which I would definitely not recommend doing in the midday heat in a full-length wetsuit! The benefit of it I supposed was stopping every two minutes to breathe and take in the stunning views this place had to offer!

Reaching the top and popping your head over the last rock is an incredible feeling just standing there taking in the beauty of the Glacier, the height, the width, the coolness that radiated off it!

And the BLUES! Don’t get me started on the colors this thing had on show! On top the white, with a hint of baby blue to the underneath deep dark blue with shades of purple!

I sat there for hours just studying it with my eyes, the blues were mesmerizing! I really didn’t know you could get so many shades of Blue!

Then the sounds, the volumes of water rushing down underneath to droplets of water falling on the rocks around the edges! With the occasional sound of chunks of ice separating away and smashing against the ground!

After pulling myself away from the Glacier I decided my knees would probably thank me if I went back down the blue route! They did! I would recommend this blue route over the red route! Scrabbling under and over rocks and jumping through waterfalls much more fun route!

After heading back down from the Glacier and picking a few blueberries along the way I made it back to the Kayak just in time as the tide had come all the way up to the reeds and the front of the kayak was surrounded by water! Great timing as I didn’t fancy a swim back! I’ve seen the amount of Jellyfish these places hold! Thousands!!

The Kayak back seemed to go a lot quicker than the way there, probably cause I just spent the whole time reliving the beauty I had just seen!

I just touched a f***ing glacier!!!!

This traveller has a blog : Wake up to the World

credit photo : Georgina Mckimm

 

First adventure

The first adventure of many

A moment lived in Scotland by Jen Rose, a traveller from Scotland

Traveling, an impossible idea…

The first adventure of many. At just eighteen, I was certain that I wanted to travel. With my older brother jetting off on new adventures every few months I was itching to see the world for myself instead of hearing it all second hand. The only problem was I had absolutely no clue where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. And more importantly, my confidence was at rock bottom. Leaving home and traveling alone seemed to me like a completely ridiculous and impossible idea.

My plans went from doing a ski season in Canada to traveling around Europe and so much more in between. But when it really came down to it I could not do it by myself. Coincidence and luck solved this hurdle I could not jump alone, and that came in the form of a new partner in crime and now permanent travel buddy. When my boyfriend and I initially started talking online, he was traveling around Europe with a friend. This was one of the reasons I decided to spark a conversation with him – he was doing something I was desperate to do myself. After a constant back and forth messaging, it was very clear we had a lot more in common than just our travel bug. We were both in the same shoes. University was an upcoming option that neither of us particularly wanted to be involved in and on top of that we were both stuck in part-time jobs that had no real future career for us. Stuck in a repetitive cycle of work it was clear that neither of us was particularly happy.

…until I met him

The first time we met was an adventure in itself, and I suppose you could call it an unofficial first date. Together we drove to the beautiful Loch Lee a short distance from our homes and set out on a walk through the idyllic scenery. From the background noise of red deer stags rutting to the sunshine and blue skies (surprising weather for Scotland), it was the perfect locations for us to chat and learn more about one another on a more unconventional date. We sat together on the edge of a waterfall and enjoyed a picnic. I already felt like we had known each other for far longer than a few weeks.

Over the next few months, we ventured further, visiting castles and gardens Gardens, waterfalls, beaches, mountains, lakes and even skiing in the north of Scotland. Every ‘date’ was an exciting adventure with countless photographic opportunities and amazing memories. Enjoying the silence and beauty of the outdoors with someone like-minded is such an awesome feeling. When we officially became a couple, we were already planning our trip. Initially traveling together was brought up in a lighthearted conversation but we soon realised it was a definite possibility. And more importantly, it was an amazing opportunity. We may have only been dating for a short time, but it was clear that this was not going to be an issue.

Traveling was something we both desperately wanted to do, so why not just to it together? After all, if you live your whole life thinking of all the ‘what ifs’ you will never truly achieve what you want to.

Let’s get ready to discover the World

After some research and planning, we booked ourselves onto a gap year tour to Thailand and Australia at the end of 2016, as well as a weekend in Amsterdam to kick-start our trip. Keeping things simple we decided to book a package deal so all of our activities were organised for the first month. This meant the stress factor was at a minimum for our first trip together. It was finally a reality, and I wasn’t going alone. Perfect! For the next 7 months, we both worked our butts off to save for our impending trip. My part time job as a supervisor for a cute wee ice-cream parlour became full time. On top of this I was completing my final year at college, of which I happily graduated from the same week we left on our journey. It was a stressful and often depressing few months, but it was so worth the hard work for what we have done and achieved.

From local Scottish scenery to Thai rain forests, elephants and the bustling streets of Bangkok. In the space of a few months, we were living a completely different life together, and it was totally mind-blowing. Traveling together has been, and is turning out the be the best decision we have made as a couple. Over the last three months, we have met so many wonderful people, seen unbelievable things and most importantly grown as people and a couple.

Traveling with someone always has its challenges. The pressure of being in one another’s company 24/7 can often be too much, but James and I have found it fairly easy and exciting. It has taught us both so much about each other, and about life. Our values and living style has changed and so has our future plans. Our first adventure together is now a permanent adventure through life, and I am positive this is just one trip of many to come.

This traveller has a blog: Jenrose Adventures

hot source Iceland

The most empowering moment for me in Iceland

A moment lived in Iceland by Gem, a traveller from USA

Swimming is one activity that every Icelander is required to know how to do. The reason being is because the country is an island in the middle of the ocean. If there was ever an emergency, knowing how to swim could be life saving.

That’s being said, they are many “skolavegur” (equivalent to YMCA) in town.

Second night in Iceland, I went swimming at Sundlaug Kópavogs. I paid roughly $13 for the entrance fees and a bathing suit rental.

I found it interesting how one could just rent a bathing suit. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve forgotten to bring mine when attempting to go swimming back home.

It was extremely cold, yet everyone was outside swimming in the hot pools. I could tell it’s something Icelanders really enjoy doing.

On our way to the locker room, my friend Anna, who is Icelandic, told me that I needed to remove my shoes and put my phone away.

When I got inside, to my grand surprise, everyone was butt naked.

There were no changing rooms, no showers with closed curtains.

Some guests were taking showers in a big open area. No closed doors. No privacy. You read that right, Americans.

Others were blow drying their hairs. And the moms were all over the place chasing after their kids…all naked.

Coming from America, where privacy is something we demand, I must admit I felt a bit weird.

However, when I looked around, everything felt normal. They were just doing things that all women would normally do at a locker room. They were just clothed in nudity. It didn’t take me too long to join the club!

Though I am athletic built, I’ve never felt so comfortable with my body as I did then.

Showering naked in a room full of women, talking, and laughing has slightly changed the way I see my body.

For whatever reason, I felt like these women were not judging, or body shaming each other.

I felt like they weren’t comparing themselves to each other.

That was a great feeling and an empowering experience.

I believe that unless we can be accepting of each other, the world will not change for the better.

This traveller has a blog : Live Love Travel

credit photo : Gem

Life is simple

A moment lived in Norway by Georgina Mckimm, a traveller from United Kingdom

On February 22nd 2016 I moved into my VW Caddy and have been living in it ever since. One Van and No Plan is literally what it says on the tin! I live in my van (Callie the Caddy) and just take each day as it comes. Check out what I have learnt and experience along the way!

Edition 7 – Lofoten, Norway – EAT – SLEEP – EXPLORE

As you drive into Lofoten you are instantly hit by the sheer beauty of the place, you are turning corners and you can’t help but drop your jaw. You come to the end of a tunnel and as you exit the word WOW, just falls out of your mouth. There was a moment where tears just rolled down my cheeks! Had the utter beauty of this place literally brought me to tears, or was it the fact that I was listening to Adele?

These roads just didn’t feel real, nature is just truly breathtaking. Something surely can’t be this beautiful? It just went on for miles and miles. Picking a spot to park became so challenging as there was just way too many choices. Being surrounded by this much pure beauty really puts life into perspective, it’s simple – EAT – SLEEP – EXPLORE!

And that’s exactly what happened:

Whether it was adventuring around beautiful fjords, climbing up cliff edges, rock hopping through forests, discovering mini beaches at the bottom of mountains or kayaking around the Arctic circle in a bikini, (yes the Arctic circle packs some heat!). All while casually being accompanied by the occasional lion mane jellyfish floating along side!

Being here was like being totally at one with nature, cooking on open fires, collecting wood, drinking water from the most beautiful waterfalls and showering out in the open with the most amazing views. I just had not idea life could be lived like this, so simple but yet so fulfilling. Really got into the ease of kayaking for leisure and food, making fires for heat and cooking. Everything I was doing had purpose and pleasure.

Being here really got me thinking, what do we actually need? When you take away all the comforts of life and you really pin it back to what you actually need to survive? The basics would be:

Food
Water
Shelter
A very wise and influential guy once told me, that if a cave man was to be dropped into today’s society he would die within 17 seconds! The noise, the amount of people, the buildings and the technology in our society would be too much for the caveman to take in. This really got me thinking, WOW he is right it would. If you sit in nature, in the middle of nowhere what are you surrounded by? The sounds of nature, the wind, water flowing down rivers, animals rustling in bushes and birds flying overhead, the only noise pollution is the magical sounds of nature. Now if you imagine going from that and only ever knowing that, then being dropped into the middle of London or New York, you can begin to understand how you would only survive for 17second. Your brain would not be able to take it all in.

On this trip, I have been privileged enough to discover some real hidden gems in the mountains, woods and along the coast. Where I’ve been able to sit, chill and listen to nothing but the sound of nature. It really makes you think, all the things society offers is there to help you create more time for yourself, but does it actually work or is it just a distraction of your time?
TV, games consoles, laptops, phones and Internet, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I could live without some theses things. But do they actual benefit us in anyway?

When you strip back to nature again, scrambling up waterfalls to take a bath, running around a forest collecting wood to build a fire, exploring the unwandered tracks of the mountains and forging for food. It made me think how lazy my life was before, turning on the heating, driving to a shop that is a 5 minutes walk away, sticking something in the oven.

I found this way of living far more fun and rewarding. Yes, it 100% took me longer to build a fire and cook on it, than sticking something in the oven. But when you free up your time you to experiment with these things, you being to see how simple life is. Learning how to build a fire by trial and error or actually communicating with the locals to find out what berries are okay to pick and eat rather than googling it just the natural way of learning. It’s more memorable, thus making us more likely to be able to retain the knowledge.

This trip has not only brought be back to nature but it has also taught me so much about myself. When you have just done a 12 miles hike, you are tired, want to sleep but you have to walk down to the waterfall to collect 10 litres of water and carry it back before it’s something I would have been like, na we can just get some at the next place. But the next place might not have water so you hike down to the waterfall to collect it as water is vital for survival.
I’m not saying I’m going to live this way for the rest of my life, but just having the chance to experience this I have learnt so much about what I actually need in my life, what I have wasted in the past and the way I will begin to look at things moving forward.

I would 100% recommend taking a few day or longer to get back to nature!

Do it and let us know how you find the experience.

This traveller has a blog : Wake up to the World

credit photo : Georgina Mckimm

 

Capri

Sleepless in Capri

A moment lived in Italy by BrandTravels, a traveller from Montreal

You first all should know that after going to Capri for the afternoon, we decided to sleep there. This was NOT planned and no, we did not mean to stay there more than half a day but come on, can you blame us? This place is just crazy beautiful!

We however had no place to stay and no hotels booked. If you must know, Capri is one beautiful place where the most chic boutiques and people come to and we weren’t really dressed and as cleaned as everyone was in this chic island. I hate giving out details like that but you guys must know that we still had our wet bathing suits one, with shorts, shirts, overalls and nothing warm for the night. Our hair was a mess and we still had some sand from the beach day we had. As dirty as I just made us seem, we just couldn’t stop laughing from the night we were going to spend and let me tell you, it is a night I will always remember.
And as we were getting hungry and the sun was going down, people started to get dressed nicely for dinner… like really nice. Compared to us of course, it wasn’t hard to beat! We were all gross from the long day we had on boats, ferries and visiting. By then, our phones almost all died, only one of our friend had his working and we kept fighting for it to take pictures, send messages and let our parents we are doing fine. At dinner, the waiter looked at us like we were some sort of four crazy tourists and served us our spaghetti tomato sauce probably thinking we were famished, and we WERE! After playing cards for an hour at the restaurant and hoping the time would go by faster, we actually realised what we got ourselves into Capri can actually get pretty cold when the sun is out!
We were laughing about the night we were going to spend but didn’t realise the laughter would soon turn into us being too tired to even open our eyes. Even in the middle of the July, with no sun outside and a bit of wind, we were chilly. We desperately went into all the hotels and asked if they had a room for us because we ”missed” our boats and we had no place to stay for the night… no luck! This is quite embarrassing but I actually made the hotel concierge feel bad for us by telling him,: imagine these were your kids, and they had no place to stay, aren’t you a father?! He looked at me and I swear for a second, I thought he would say yes… no luck though. After spending another hour walking around and trying to play some stupid games all around the island, we really needed to rest and our eyes were closing pretty fast.
At around 2 am, we decided to sneak in into the pool of the Holiday Inn and to sleep there on the chairs they had. We were desperate and we had no other options. It was HILARIOUS. Every time we heard a little noise which was probably a cat walking by, we all woke up and looked at each other as if someone was coming to get us! It was so spooky back then but as I am writing this now, I cannot help but have a smile on my face. Our backs were hurting since we were on the chairs and a table so at around 4 am, I decided to go to the long chairs by the pool and sleep there. There were stars in the sky, a full bright and white moon and a big silent all around.
At around 6 am, I opened my eyes and finally saw the sunrise, I woke up everyone and we all headed to a cafe that opened super early, thank god!. We were EXHAUSTED and the bags under our eyes were totally obvious. What was also obvious was the empty pockets slash no money except 10 euros. Getting a coffee was harder than running half a marathon and we ended up all sharing one cup of coffee.
When the sun actually rose, people started getting up and the day was getting going, we decided it was time to go back to Naples, where we first came from. Gosh, we were excited to sleep early, and in!
This will truly be the funniest night and my best memory of my trip to Italy! Travelling for me means the world and I got so lucky I was able to see Capri for a longer time than expected. See you again Capri, this time sleeping a hotel room I hope.

This traveller has a blog : BrandTravels

credit photo : BrandTravels
Venice

When dreams come true, tears flow

A moment lived in Italy by Punita Malhotra, a traveller from India

Everyone has a dream destination, and mine has always been Venice. For as long as I can remember, the floating ethereal city has been the fairytale I wanted to live out. Naturally, my excitement was already sky-high when we boarded the train from Milan to Venice.

The sight of the water taxis outside Venice station fired my spirits higher and throughout the ferry ride, I kept standing at the helm, looking out at sea, eager for my first view. Despite all the fascinating pictures my mind recalled, I was totally unprepared! The city’s hazy silhouette from a distance kept sharpening as we got nearer…like a perfect painting hung up on a far wall in a museum. With every second, I noticed more colours under the intricate play of light and shade. Finally, we were here!

There was a flurry of activity when we anchored, luggage and passengers offloading from dozens of boats together. The riverside dock was teeming with crowds…tourists with cameras, hawkers with wares, shops with souvenirs and painters with easels. From the port, I caught a glimpse of the monumental St.Mark’s Square (or San Marco Piazza as they call it) and the buildings leading up to it. My unbridled excitement must have been writ on my face, because Vikas smiled indulgently, before giving me a gentle nudge. I had stopped short in my tracks and was blocking the way of the patient passengers behind.

We wheeled away our bags and I followed Vikas as he moved towards St.Mark’s Square, where the throngs were thickening. I was soaking in the sight of the grand Doge Palace and the government buildings with hundreds of symmetrical windows on all sides. It was the strangest feeling, a sort of communion with this huge mingling crowd queuing up to enter the cathedral and posing for pictures. Surreal.

“What’s the hotel address?” I heard Vikas ask. I handed over the email confirmation to him, still staring mesmerised at the cathedral. It was slightly off-centred, wasn’t it? He must have left me standing there, while he walked over to a restaurant asking for directions, but I didn’t notice. All my life I had dreamt of visiting Venice and we were here now. Then why did I suddenly feel a hardness in my throat and why were tears stinging my eyes?

“This doesn’t seem to be the complete hotel address” Vikas looked at me quizzingly. “Well, that’s all I have”, I dismissed the issue. We would easily find the hotel…and this was not the first time we’ve traveled to an unfamiliar city. The real deal: I was still reveling in the magic of my dream come true to take his concern seriously. “We’ll ask someone for directions”, I said, shrugging casually. “How difficult can it be to find a four-star luxury hotel in Venice? People would have heard of the hotel and the street is mentioned too. It says it is near St.Mark’s Square.”

The hotel was the farthest from my mind…I was lost in Venice and just wanted time to stop. “Just look at the scene, I coaxed him spiritedly. The scene was farthest from his mind….he was lost in Venice and he just wanted to locate the hotel. We couldn’t have been in more different worlds!

I sighed. Time to exit dreamland and locate reality. Half a dozen conversations and 30 minutes later, we realized that the hotel address was really incomplete. In Venice, everything is near either St.Mark’s square or Rialto! Very few locals could speak English. Vikas was exasperated now. Knitted browse and irritated voice. “How can you not have the complete hotel address? This is the height of irresponsibility”. I was to blame, but would I take the blame right now? I had been shaken out of my spell and was tired from wheeling around a huge piece of luggage, and maybe there was a teeny-meeny feeling of guilt too! “Well, you could have double checked too, why should I have to do everything?” I retorted.

The moment had passed. My tears had dried up. My delighted smile had turned into a scowl. We were huffing and puffing, dragging heavy luggage up and down the little cobbled alleys and canal bridges. Vikas was on an exorbitantly expensive ISD call with the hotel concierge, who was giving live directions using the Google Map. I was following him through charming little waterways, bridges and narrow streets. Finally, after 45 tedious minutes of circling everywhere, we finally checked into the hotel, said goodbyes to our egos, rebooted and smiled. We were in one of the most romantic cities in the world…no place to fight for long!

When we walked back to St.Mark’s Piazza later that afternoon, I still felt the magic, but the intensity was mellower. But I didn’t mind that. I had had my moment…that first look would remain etched in my memory forever. And the faux pas was so much more fun now that it was over. Having added a hugely interesting dimension to the ‘plain-old-tears-of-joy’ landing at Venice…it had given us a story of a different kind, to be retold over and over again…lathered in true-blue good humor, of course!

This traveller has a blog : 100 cobbled roads

credit photo : pixabay.com
cycling Germany

Self-taught adventure – cycling central Germany

A moment lived in Germany by Birdwinks, a traveller from Germany

Instead of this fancy beach holiday, for this term’s vacation I literally simply stepped out of my door – and my adventure began just there. One week solo cycling and wild camping with my 7 gear city bike, almost 500 km through central Germany.

First of all: I had no previous experience in free camping or long term cycling or how to ensure food and water supplies on the way while being on a budget. I mean, I consider myself quite fit and I follow many different travel blogs with related stories and I backpacked alone before… but actually doing this shit all by myself just out of a sudden idea was something completely different. And I’d do it again in a split second.

I was well prepared, which was the clue to it all (well, in any case you gotta be extremely flexible and modest on the way, but that’s obvious). I knew the route and had sufficient navigation material, I knew my equipment and how to pack it well and set it up, I had repair stuff and knew how to use it (not so obvious, apparently), and – most importantly – I brought a huge amount of optimism. When my bike broke the first day, that was what kept my mind positive.

I got up in the mornings between 5 and 7 (depending on weather, daily distance, campsite and its potential agricultural use), I cycled between 50 and 85 km a day, I was freezing and sweating, starving and heavenly full of awesome food, I met great people and great loneliness. I reached personal limits and crossed them, I overcame fears and flinched from others. I was creative in repairing things and where I couldn’t, I was tremendously grateful for receiving help. I camped on wide meadows and in forests, in a barn between hay bales and in a castle ruin from XIIth century. I experienced ups and downs, great joy and deep sorrow, and most of all I got to listen to my thoughts like it’s never the case in everyday life – although I just covered a couple of kilometers of physical distance to that, it felt like another universe mentally. The official route is 400 km, but due to the extra way to get to the start from my home, as well as all the detours and looking for a freaking repair shop extra ways I can easily add another 100.

However, my bike started making problems the very first day, with an annoying squeaking pedal. I was able to fix it for roughly 60 km by applying some oil, but on Sunday, the second day, it became so bad I was unable to keep going – and all the repair shops closed, of course. I was quite desperate, sitting on the side of the road… when a couple came by, took me with them to their home, and helped me cleaning and oiling with more professional equipment, which enabled me to keep cycling for another 100 km or so. The next morning, I arrived in the next bigger city and was able to get it repaired straight away (they said it would take the whole day, but were done after 1,5 hours!).

Towards the end of the week, I really dealt quite intensely with some of my issues and, as it’s not always rainbows and unicorns, also had some deep, rather melancholic, thoughtful times full of doubt, not knowing whether my current life path is right for me, or which decisions are the best. I know this way is where I’m supposed to be, and believe in its importance, however, this is not easy when you’re alone in the middle of nowhere and don’t have anybody to share your thoughts with, to get a perspective on the matters.

After all, I figured some things out for myself. I realize I’m able to take care of my problems and do a trip like this by myself if I need to, that I’m fully capable of it. I know I mostly prefer company and dear friends around be, but I also value the alone time to actually listen to my own thoughts and go through things. I learned once again how positivity, mindfulness, and trust can lead the way, successfully. And, last but not least, you don’t have to go far to experience adventure – it awaits just outside your doorstep!

This traveller has a blog : Birdwinks

credit photo : Birdwinks

Best day ever syndrome

A moment lived in Sweden by Georgina Mckimm, a traveller from United Kingdom

One Van and No Plan

On February 22nd 2016, I moved into my VW Caddy and have been living in it ever since. One Van and No Plan is literally what it says on the tin! I live in my van (Callie the Caddy) and just take each day as it comes. Check out what I have learnt and experience along the way!

Living in a van, every single day is an adventure, every single day something amazing happens and without prompt 3 words just keep falling out of my mouth – BEST DAY EVER! I find myself saying it every day, something as simple as being sat having breakfast and an old guy that speaks no English comes over and offers us fresh berries that he has just picked from the field across the road “BEST DAY EVER”. Then the next day a van pulling up next to you for their midmorning coffee break, popping out and chatting to you for half an hour then leaving. Suddenly you have a whole new set of knowledge on Australia and New Zealand, a bottle of red wine and a pack of cookies “BEST DAY EVER”. The complete and utter kindness of people in this world really melts my heart. During my time in Sweden, I felt this more than ever.

Setting off for the day in the van not knowing where you will be sleeping that night is always exciting. You kind of just stumble across an amazing spot at some point during the day and are like yep this is awesome let’s sleep here tonight. So on this day, driving over a bridge onto an Island in the middle of the lake was exciting at first. Then once you are deep into the woods and driving down lane ways that look like your driving into a horror film, you start to question yourself. Should I turn around? Is this even going to lead anywhere? Are my low profile tyres going to make it across this terrain? But me being me I have to drive and see, as you never know what could be waiting at the end of the road. I’m so happy that I did not let fear get the better of me as this is where the road leads to…
A mini beach on an Island in the middle of nowhere. “ BEST DAY EVER”

So what do u do next? You strategically reverse the van onto the beach and sit back and chill. That was until about an hour later a 4×4 truck comes down, so I go over and start speaking to the guy just to double check I wasn’t in his way. He was like no not at all, the only reason I came down was because we saw your English number plate as you drove past earlier and wanted to invite you to our house for a drink.

Um okay, hell Yes! Jumped into the truck and drove up to the house to be greeted by some truly amazing people. Then learnt some Swedish, got plied with rum & coke, had shots of brandy and Swedish beer and then it was apparently time to go down to the lake for a midnight dip! What the hell lets go, no mum I did not drive the Swedish guys 4×4 truck down to the lake, I drove it back! 😂

The morning after being woken up with an offering of an English breakfast ‘BEST DAY EVER’ once again spring to mind! The kindness of these people just amazed me. Ended up actually moving in with one of the locals and not leaving the Island for 4 or 5 days. Just explored the woods, took turns at cooking for each other, listen to their travel stories, play some good old card games and really just got to know one another. It was easy to see why he lived there, you’re there in the middle of nowhere, pure tranquility and a few days in you kind of forget there is a world outside of the Island.
I entered the Island looking for a place to park up for the night and left the Island with the most incredible memories, friends for life and an invite to the North of Sweden.

If travel has taught me one thing, it is that every single day is the ‘BEST DAY EVER’!

This traveller has a blog : Wake up to the World

credit photo : pixabay.com