A Taste of the Scottish Highlands

A Taste of the Scottish Highlands

A moment lived in Scotland by Shelly Rodriguez, a traveller from USA

I am sitting on a bus, breathing the recycled tepid air from the broken air conditioner. We got lost on the way to the bus tour so I wound up squeezed shoulder to shoulder exactly in the middle of four other humans on the backseat of this bus. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a family with small children has scored a window seat but none were actually looking out of it. I’m silently extremely jealous. Our bus bumbles along the lowlands of Scotland, heading north. This is my first international trip and will be my first visit into the Highlands. Craning my neck, I can see rolling hills carpeted thick with grass and dotted with sheep. I make a mental note that I cannot leave Scotland before psyching myself up to try haggis, the dish of Scotland made of spiced sheep meat boiled in a sheep stomach.

The bus pulls into the parking lot of a tiny, unnamed café, dwarfed by the mountains just beginning to tower behind it. Stepping off the bus, I hug my coat tighter around myself against the damp chill as I look around. Sheep farms flank us on all sides, seeming to stretch into infinity. Despite the dreary gray of the sky, the land seems almost to glow with the green of the vegetation and the air is sweet with petrichor. In this world, in this moment, the only two colors that exist are gray and emerald green. This place is timeless, with the only signs of human life being the meandering road we came from and the café that sits to the side of it. I buy a cup of tea from a grizzled Scottish woman, her accent as thick as her tight gray curls. Her age is indeterminate from her lined face and she brews her tea strong and bergamot-fragrant, probably the same way she’s brewed it for centuries.

We ascend into the Highlands not long after leaving the café. The hills begin to grow wild, losing the gentle slopes and exposing craggy rocks. The trees start to stretch taller and taller into the sky. It is so impossibly verdant here, an overwhelming void of every shade of green imaginable. Soon, as we officially cross into Highland territory, the trees thicken until they fill the entirety of our bus windows and blur into a leafy mass as we hurtle past. The road twists up and around the mountainous land. We crest a particularly high point, the trees clear, and time stops.

Laid out in front of us is a glen, ringed on every side by mist-wreathed mountains. Tiny waterfalls carve the mountain faces and the rain-heavy clouds hang low in the air, obscuring their true vastness and verticality. I’ve never seen anywhere so lonely and awe-inspiring. All at once, I am not in the bus anymore. I am following Frodo and Sam, pack weighty on my back and walking stick in hand, facing the daunting and impossible world. I am watching the trees and doom creep ever closer to my castle with Macbeth, unable to distinguish foe from the swirling mists. I am looking through the window of the Hogwarts Express, I am searching for the Holy Grail. All in an instant, it becomes clear why so many writers are inspired by this incredible place. Of course magic and monsters exist, we are visiting their homeland. I am hit with the realization that I really am such a small person in this great world.

Unbeknownst to me, this is merely the first glen on the ride and one of hundreds in this land. My epiphany subsides and we continue on, passing several more and spotting lochs of dark, still water within the glens. Crumbling ruins materialize on the countryside: a pile of rubble with a single wall standing here, a primitive stone tower there, an abandoned castle on the other side of that loch. It’s so forlorn here, it’s easy to forget that people have been living here since the Stone Age. The ruins are prolific, almost common, a sharp contrast to the scarce, protected, relatively young ruins in the United States.

Eventually, the bus stops and we scramble off with our umbrellas to explore another glen, Glencoe, the site of a bloody massacre between two warring clans. Later, we eat beautifully flaky fish and chips in a little fishing village way up north, then take a cruise in Loch Ness. Not even the child sitting next to us who throws up and forces us to suffer the stench for hours could dampen the excitement of the day. I’ll always remember the sensation of visiting this fairytale land. It’s truly a magical part of the world, even if experienced in the back of a crowded bus. I know that this journey was a mere taste and I know I will return someday to truly immerse myself.

Oh, and haggis? It’s not half bad.

This traveller has a blog : Tesoro and Trouvaille

credit photo : Shelly Rodriguez

What is the Wandurlust Life all about?

What is the Wandurlust Life all about?

A moment lived in Holland by Lauren Baratt, a traveller from United Kingdom

This post is designed to give you a taste of what a wanderlust life is actually about past the words and the deep quotes. The aim is to inspire you through real life stories and photos to try something new and possibly see something that could end up changing your perspective on adventure and life.

Personally for me, Norway has given me the biggest taste of a ‘Wanderlust Life’. The country itself is beautiful and around each corner a new adventure is waiting for you. The countryside allows you to live off the land if you know how to use it. Throughout my time travelling. I have learnt and got more effective and efficient when it comes to living off the land. Within the Efjord, I scrambled to the top of a waterfall and took a ‘bath’ within one of the pools naturally created there. This was all whilst having an incredible view overlooking the stunning Efjord in front of me and a mountain behind me. The water was coming from the snow which had recently melted off the mountain so it was freezing cold (you can imagine on the nip on) but also really refreshing at the same time.

The day after a short drive down the road we came across the Sagfjorden. There were a number of small islands a short distance off the shore so we decided to kayak out to these. On the way around I found out that these islands were completely owned by the birds after being dive bombed by seagulls and the whole Norwegian bird life (that’s what it felt like). Docking up on to a less bird populated island for a little adventure and of course a photo opportunity, I found mussels on the sea bed which we collected for dinner the next day. On the way back to the main land though a few pilot whales just decided to pop up out of the water. I got super excited and started screaming to George who had already made it back to the main land in some high squeal pitch I never knew I was capable of making.

Having cleaned and soaked the mussels overnight they were ready to eat. It took about 4 hours to clean the mussels and it definitely was not the most pleasant of tasks I have completed. Tonight though we were cooking in an awe-inspiring place. Next to whirlpools. The Saltstraumen in Norway has the world’s strongest tidal current so four times a day when the tide goes in or out you can see whirlpools. Click here for whirlpool timetable. Although the whirlpools are absolutely better when the tide goes out. Witnessing the strength of nature unquestionably an astonishing thing to witness. What I enjoyed the most were the seagulls who would just float around on the whirlpools… the little things in life hey!!

So a wanderlust life, what exactly is it? Well for me a wanderlust life is a life where no plans are created. You go with the flow. Make the most of the nature around you, becoming resourceful and using it to your benefit. Not to destroy it. A life where you never know what adventure awaits around the corner. The really beauty of a Wanderlust life is that you need to discover what exactly it is for you…

This traveller has a blog : The adventure diary

credit photo : wikimedia.org

Living the High life in Holland

Living the High life in Holland

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

So like normal, I like to leave everything to the last minute, half an hour before we set off to drive to the ferry I was just getting around to sorting out my travel insurance, and my travel money card! I don’t think I will ever learn.
Then we hit the road. I say we, let me introduce Lauren who will be joining me on the road for 4 months! I have known her for about 5 years, she worked for me for a year or so before she headed off the University. We kept in touch when she left going on the occasional bike ride and meeting up for a few drinks and deep and meaningful about life, believe me, we can talk about this until the sun comes up! 4 months of pretty much 24/7 together in a VW Caddy could go either way! I’m only joking we are very similar in the way we think and look at life and she is always up for an adventure!

Having no idea what to expected from Holland other than windmills and clogs. Well, it was that and so much more, the beauty of having no destination is that if you see something you like you can literally pull up and chill there for a few days! The first epic find was the sand dunes! Who knew they had sand dunes in Holland, not me! So I did what any other normal person would do, cracked the sand board out the van and like a big kid went and played on the Dunes. It felt like I could be in a desert in the middle of nowhere it was so peaceful, the sun was beaming down, the dunes were high and steep, it was awesome going down and a bloody workout getting back up to the top! Today was definitely a leg day!
I notice that other than the dunes, there were NO HILLS IN HOLLAND! Which made it the perfect place for cycling, so when in Holland you do the right thing and explore it on 2 wheels rather than 4, the coast line goes on for miles you can literally cycle from the hook of holland all the way to the other end! The only difficulty i found with cycling in holland was putting the bikes back on the roof.
So what you learn really quickly when travelling is that there are so many beautiful people in this world, that want nothing more than your time! From day one in Holland meeting this old guy that was just on his way back to England, he was asking me about where I’m going and my plans etc and when I told him that I’m not sure, all I really know is I would like to go to Norway and Croatia. He was excited for me and began to give me all this information on Norway (where he had just come from) from the roads that were closed to the cost of the food. He even ended up giving me his map of Norway and a travel book, the hour conversation all started with one simple smile!

A few days in we had our first issue (our 10 litre water jerrycan falling off the bed as I turned a corner and hitting the side door handle snapping of the wire the open and shuts the door) So after spending a good hour or so determined to fix it myself, we set off to find a garage. The guy in the garage had a good laugh at us, and did his best to fix it so we were able to open and close it. Think he must have been there for a good 45 minutes sorting it out and didn’t charge us a penny, did it out of the kindness of his heart and I think he found it funny that we were literally a few days in and we had managed to break the door!
After exploring some pretty cool places along the coast we headed inland a bit and found ourselves in the town of Weesp, if you want to see a really cute dutch town then this is it, canals, stone cobbled pathways, street markets, windmills, countryside and lily pads. It had it all, it was so quaint and pretty.
We ended up chilling here for a few days making are selfs at home with our own little carpark all to ourselves.
One of the days we caught the train into Amsterdam. That day the rain poured and poured, so we had no other option but to sit in a coffee shop for the whole day (Yes Nan one of those coffee shops) When i say the whole day we must have been in there for a good 12 hours! I had the most incredible day filled with green teas, brownies and people watching.

If you want to see culture, diversity and the true beauty of this world. Sit in a coffee shop in Amsterdam for a day! The love and happiness that oozed out of this shop were overwhelming! It was really interesting just watching the world go by, the people that past through that day from all different ages, cultures, walks of life. From the suited and booted businessman on a 10 minutes break, to a group of Jamaicans and there backgammon board chilling for the afternoon. A few good old typical English Chav passing through to an old Columbian guy and a young hippy girl, some graduates from the USA discussing the life and ambitions with the germans that we sat on their table, Business owners sat chilling with the unemployed. It was beautiful to witness!

This traveller has a blog : Wake up to the World

credit photo : Georgina Mckimm

Sailing Arctic
A Sailing Adventure into The Arctic

A Sailing Adventure into The Arctic

A moment lived in Arctic by Chris Long, a traveller from New Zealand

In July 2015 my girlfriend and I got the amazing chance to be apart of the crew on a small sailing vessel sailing from Baltimore to Alaska, via The North West Passage and Greenland. There have been only about 135 small vessels (under 20m) to ever complete this passage and when you set off the chances of the sea ice in the high Canadian Arctic actually melting is 50/50.  That’s if you even make it up past Greenland.
The captain of the yacht Joe found us on a crew finding website Latitude 38 where we had put up a small advertisement a few months before.
The yacht, SV Hawk, is a very proven sailing vessel.  It has circumnavigated the globe sailed by its previous owners Beth and Evan.
The hardest thing was fitting 4 months food into all the small spaces and cubby holes throughout the boat!!

Departure:  22nd July Baltimore to Halifax
Our first 3 days were absolutely horrible.  We came out into the end of a tropical storm and we had up to 45Knot wind gusts and Huge seas.  I was terribly sea sick and wondered how I could possibly do this for 3 months.  Joe had plenty of sailing experience and he was teaching us how to sail.  But at the same time this was his first time sailing this particular yacht.  Shanan Wolfe and Jérémie St-Pierre were 22 and 25, and had some sailing experience.  But never on the high seas.   Graceie and I had never sailed before.  And only Graceie and I knew each other.  We were all thrown in at the deep end but luckily we were all very capable and learned fast.
2 days north of Halifax just off the coast of Newfoundland disaster struck! A bearing in the steering wheel broke and the steering wheel stopped working.  It sounds serious and it is, but our auto pilot still worked.  We changed course and headed straight for the nearest town, Stephenville, Newfoundland.
The passage from Newfoundland was fast with following winds all the way.  Lots of fog and the first iceberg just off Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.
The day before we set off from Nuuk we got the surprising news that the first 3 yachts had made it through Bellot straight, this is the crux if you like of the whole North West Passage, and this was very early in the season for it to open.  Some years it doesn’t open at all, this was good news. However, we were also worried, some years it only opens for a day…had we missed our chance?
From Greenland it would be over a month before we would get another shower and go to a grocery shop.  Also from here we were on our own, if something serious happened to the yacht or one of us then rescue would be days away.  To me, it was important to know the yacht well enough that if the worst was to happen to Joe the captain we could get back to the nearest port.
We sailed up the west coast of Greenland to a place called Disco Bay, home of the icebergs.  We were had to get used to tacking through the bergs avoiding the downwind area where the small chunks or ice, (growlers) would sit, just on the surface of the water.  These chunks of ice the size of cars pose the largest threat to us as they are hard to see especially in rougher conditions.  We have all seen the Titanic….

Icebergs and polar bear
Disco Bay was one of the most incredible places I have ever been.  The Illulisat Ice Fiord is a massive Fiord that is completely full of icebergs that have calved off the glacier at the edge of the Greenland Ice Cap.
Our first stop in the Canadian Arctic was Pond Inlet, a small Inuit community in on Baffin Island.  With no doc, we had to fill Jerry cans of fuel on the beach from the tanker and do loads in the zodiac back to The Hawk.
We continued through Lancaster Sound to Beachey Island, the wintering oversight for the lost Franklin Expedition in the 1800s.   Here we saw what we had longed to see….the little white dot on the shore that turns into a Polar Bear!!  It’s hard for them to hide when there’s no ice around.
From Beachey Island we headed south down Peel Sound.  Usually, this is hard to navigate through due to heavy ice but with our ice charts we downloaded each day via the sat phone we knew there was plenty of room to navigate south.  You never want to get between a large area of ice and the shore or your history.
In the Bering Sea, we again had 45 knots of wind.  This time, it was behind us but the sea was still large and ugly.  The poor Hawk got thrown around but she handled it well.   We had just our stay sail up and still we would get blown over to 50 degrees with gusts of wind 40+ knots.  Each night we would see the northern lights in the sky above us.  Usually, it was a bit cloudy but one particular night it was right across the sky at 4am with a crescent moon and if you put your face outside the cockpit you would get a cold face full of spray!  Raw nature at its best and another moment I will never forget.  Here we crossed the Arctic Circle ending our successful 31 day transit of the North West Passage!!

When we arrived in Nome, Alaska we got to have our first shower in 5 weeks!!

This traveller has a blog : Wild Kiwi

credit photo : Chris Long
The mysterious northern island

The mysterious northern island

A moment lived in Sweden by Lauren Barratt, a traveller from United Kingdom

To pick places to visit, George and I have a random and exciting way of choosing places. What we do is look on the map see somewhere that might be interesting and drive there. For some of you this may sound a bit risky, who knows what we will find? So many what ifs could be said about our random method. On the other hand, though it allows us to come across some incredible places with incredible people. This is the case with Bolmso Island.

After checking the map I could see an Island with a nature reserve in the middle of a lake my imagination was running wild of what exactly was on there so we set off on a two hours drive to find out. When we arrived it did not disappoint. The island was covered in a forest which looked both intriguing and also slightly eerie. Personally, forests always have more of a fear factor as you never know what is in them! Also, being in a foreign country often means most of the animals you see are completely new to you; I have seen some scary looking bugs which never would make an appearance in England! I know what you are thinking… bugs come on now Lauren you little wimp but half of them bite over here or are just ridiculously big. There are also Moose’s and Bears just to make me seem a bit harder…

Driving across the island the eeriness of it all was intensified we were driving down a beaten track road surrounded in thick forest which looked like something out of a horror film. We considered turning around but we could see on the google satellite that an amazing beach was at the end and of course being the adventurers we are the risk of murder was worth it. As the forest cleared we first came across a cute little village full of Swedish style houses which look like shacks made out of wood. It was cute here. Very different from the eeriness of the forest that surrounded it. We kept going and found our self a marina with our own private beach for the night.

We parked up and decided a chilled night in the van was on the cards, especially when the heavens opened. After a few hours though a local Swedish guy turned up we assumed he was going to ask us to move this is usually the case as campervanners are not fully welcomed everywhere especially within local villages. Instead, he surprised us, he told us about his and his families love of English people and how no one ever visits the island inviting us into his house for a few drinks. We accepted the offer, At this point, the story could go two ways
1. I’m going to tell you how I narrowly escaped being murdered in some horror film story or
2. I’m going to tell you about how they got me so drunk I spent the next two days spewing my guts up.

Off we followed him at this point we hadn’t even found his name out… arriving at the house we could see a welcoming party of about 8-9 people inside. As I walked in my first offer was a drink of rum I was practically at home! We chatted for hours and after a few too many Captain Morgans and coke (provided by the rum queen herself Lotta) I decided to make a bet with Christof and somehow ended up going for a swim in the lake around the Island. This is the last bit I remember of the night. The next morning I woke up and spewed for the whole day. Anyone who knows me well enough will know it was always going to be option 2… I still blame Lotta for my hangover! After finally recovering from my hangover we were invited to stay for a few more days which we took up. Lars was lovely enough to welcome us into his house showing us the Island, telling us his stories and just staying in a shack in the forest was refreshing. I needed refreshing after my hangover!

The Island of Bolmso is well worth a visit and if not this Island why not pick another? Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you adventuring… just make sure you take calculated risks!

This traveller has a blog : The adventure diary

credit photo : flickr.com

Inspired by Iceland

Inspired by Iceland

A moment lived in Iceland by Georgina Mckimm, a traveller from United Kingdom
Inspired by Iceland…
Sometimes the day to day grind of life makes you forget your passions and dreams. It makes you think, it’s all about earning lots of money to buy things you don’t actually want or need. From a young age society drills into you, it’s all about getting a good education, to get a good job, to earn lots of money, to buy a house and settle down into a life that gives you the same outcome year after year.
For me, it took 30 years and one adventure through Iceland to realise that actually this life I have been working so hard for is not the life I want to lead. Que Iceland…
I booked the flights and then brought a map of Iceland, deciding the best way for me to experience the country was to hire a campervan and drive it.
Believe me, it was an incredible way to explore the country. Witnessing the ever changing landscapes, falling asleep under the enchanting Northern lights and waking up next to the most mesmerising waterfalls.
Then one morning it hit me. I woke up stepped out of the van and sat and had my morning pee here……

I felt overcome with emotion and I felt grateful and blessed that I was there in that moment. I was peeing in the middle of nowhere, not a soul in sight watching seals potter about with their morning. I got back into the van and went through the whole if I was at home now I would have woke up in the same bedroom as I always do. I would have used the same bathroom as I always do. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could wake up to a different experience every day?

This trip literally woke me up from everything I was working towards. For the first time in 6 years I woke up without the stress of work, no phone, no emails and I felt free. Even though I had researched the island and planned to drive the ring road, no amount of planning could have prepared me for the experience this trip gave me. Yes, it was only 6 days, but I did not miss the ease of cleaning my teeth in a sink with running water. I did not miss the ease of boiling a kettle and I surprisingly didn’t miss being able to just turn the heating on when I got cold. I also 100% did not miss my phone. I really enjoyed beginning able to sit back and just appreciate what was there in front of me. I was able to appreciate what was there in that moment and the feeling that it all gave me.
The fact that when I got back from Iceland the following day I would be catching a flight to hotel resort in Egypt didn’t seem as appealing as it did before.

…Enlighten in Egypt
Now in the complete polar opposite to where I had just been, sitting on my sun bed reliving all the incredible things I had just experienced in Iceland. I’m thinking about the holidays I had been on in the past and how little of each country I had actually seen. This needed to change, so no more package holidays everywhere I go I want to explore.
I had brought a book with me to read on this holiday, a book I had been trying to read since the summer. A great friend of mine lent it to me she said it changed her life. I finished it within two days and snap it changed my life too. The book if you haven’t already read it is a must, it’s called ‘The Secret‘
by Rhonda Byrne. There must have been a reason I didn’t get round to reading it in the summer because this holiday just felt like everything had come together. Iceland had just woken me and shown me what life is really about and ‘ The Secret ‘ had just given me the mindset to actually start leading that life…

This traveller has a blog : Wake up to the World

credit photo : flickr.com
The Tree House of Dreams

The Tree House of Dreams

A moment lived in Thailand by Angus and Vivian Adventures, travellers from United Kingdom

Living in a tree house was a dream of mine since I was a kid. There is just something so peaceful about climbing into the trees and nesting yourself its branches. My dad built me a tree house when I was younger; I used to spend hours and hours up there, reading a book or just spying on the neighbours. While Angus and I was planning on Thailand trip, I found that my dreams could be a reality. I discovered the Chiang Mai Tree House, a family-owned tree house resort located about 45 minutes from the actual city of Chiang Mai. It was a “must do” on my list, and I immediately booked us a few days in one of their infamous tree houses.

Our time there was a dream come true and a half. Mink, one of the managers, warmly welcomed us when we arrived. He proceeded to give us a small tour of the resort, and I gazed in awe at the place. We were in the middle of a small village, in a lush, tropical area brimming with trees and wildlife, and surrounded my multiple tree houses. Some were 15 meters high, with steps spiralling around the tall trees. Some were larger and surrounded two trees. Then, Mink showed us our tree house, and I swear my jaw dropped. It was the kind of tree house you’ve imagined in your dreams.

The rest of the village was just as stunning. The small resort gave us bikes to borrow for free to explore other areas. Since the village was so small, everything was easily accessible with the bikes. We biked along dirt roads and found gigantic, deserted caves that would have seemed scary if the placed hadn’t been so serene. We had the chance to walk into these caves, looking out for bats and seeing if there were any thai rock carvings on the walls. We were the only two there.

Another place we found reminded me of a scene from the movie, Spirited Away. We found an abandoned village that had been deserted for years. Homes still scattered about the area, and it was dead quiet except for the sound of the wind whistling through our ears. The place was a lush green, with a small lagoon with a rope swing situated by the river. Of course, Angus and I had to jump in. The water was cool, crisp and the place was dead quiet. So quiet, it was almost creepy. But we didn’t let that scare us, and had a great time splashing around without a tourist in sight.

Our few days at the Raebang Pasak Tree House came to an end, but our memories will of the area will last forever. It was an amazing place not just because of the tree house, but because of its location. It was so rural, you had no chance to running into heaps of tourists. You had the place to yourselves, and could enjoy the amazing natural landmarks the area has to offer, from bat caves, to view points, to lagoons and waterfalls, the area was a place I wish to come back to, again and again.

These travellers have a blog : Angus and Vivian Adventures

credit photo : Angus and Vivian