hot source Iceland
The most empowering moment for me in 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 ?

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:

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


Sleepless in 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
Where is happiness ?

Where is happiness ?

A moment lived in Cabo Verde by Maria, a traveller from Portugal

Most of us, living in western countries take for granted all the advantages of living in democratic and developed nations. We have freedom to think, speak and move around. We have a house, usually a car, a job to earn our living, health insurance or national services, access to school and to books, Internet, cultural events. We should agree that we, who write and read travel blogs and actually travel for leisure are just a few (a privilege few) of the 7 billion over the earth.

But you agree with me that, most of the time, we don’t feel privilege. We feel that we want more. And don’t take me wrong. I believe that ambition may be a great thing. Can be a powerful drive to make you grow and be a better person or a more accomplished professional. But what are we missing? Sometimes is just stuff. A bigger house, a new car, a new smartphone or a new camera. Sometimes is something we can’t define. It’s a hollow space inside, needing to be fulfilled. It’s an emotion that eludes and escape from us. And we feel incomplete and unhappy.

Twenty years ago I went on a job assignment to Cabo Verde, an African archipelago close to the coast of Senegal. Once a Portuguese colony, Cabo Verde was an independent country for around twenty years then, but still poor and in development. Contrary to other African countries once in Portuguese dominion that have many natural resources, Cabo Verde lacks those resources. Nevertheless, for many years now the country has a stable representative democracy and grow an economy that is mostly service oriented, with a great focus on tourism.

But let’s go back in time. It was the early 1990’s and I moved to a country with an outbreak of cholera going on. The water was not safe to drink or even to wash yourself (try to shower with your mouth closed!). The supermarkets had just a few items on the shelves and no more than one or two varieties of each product. The street markets were full of color and people, but it was easy to see how poor the people were. Was current word that, in the capital, some people used to go to the dumpsters to collect food from the waist of the hotels.

Children ask us for the remaining water in the bottles we have on the restaurant tables, for they didn’t have money to buy bottled water. And ask for pens and pencils, for in school they would receive one of each in the beginning of the year and it didn’t last. Cabo Verde is a very dry country where hardly ever rains. Still, every year the farmers work the land and prepare the plantations, not knowing if the water will come, without any guarantee that their effort will give some fruits.

In those days, even small kids had to walk miles to get water from public fountains, carrying heavy jars. And the same kids, build their toys from cans and wood. Amazing toys they love and were proud of. They shared with each other the things we give them and were grateful.

Day after day, the things I saw, heard and feel while talking and relating to these people, brought some light into my mind and some lightness into my soul. Those people have so little, endure such hardships and yet, they seemed so happy, grateful and perseverant. Poor as they were, they give me such a valuable gift. Happiness is not out there, definitely not in any material possession or even in the best of circumstances. It’s in the attitude, in the way we look at live and at us in it, in the gratefulness we can feel for this amazing opportunity and for what we can make with it.

This traveller has a blog : The Wanderer’s Chronicles

credit photo : Maria

Hitchhiking Laos
Hitchhiking Through Laos

Hitchhiking Through Laos

A moment lived in Laos by Kaitlyn, a traveller from USA

I met my four Canadian travel buddies crossing the border from Cambodia to Laos. We were instructed to give our passports over at the border while we waited on the bus for them to be stamped (Which seems like a bad idea in retrospect). The attendant came back with all of our passports and was shouting out all of our nationalities while he returned them. I, as per usual, was the only American on the bus, and Canadians tend to find this humorous.

We ended up traveling through Laos together, riding bikes through the 4,000 islands, sleeping in hammocks, and drinking our way through the streets of Vientiane. We got the idea to hitchhike from 2 blonde girls who said they had done it and it was quite simple. We decided to give it a shot, as bus fees were all of four dollars and what better way to experience local life? Throwing caution to the wind and carrying our huge packs, we boarded trucks and accepted the kindness of locals who would stop and give us rides. After a day of riding with chickens, in the back of pickups, and receiving two marriage proposals from locals, I realized I was feeling quite sick. I was about to get food poisoning, and I was literally in the back of a pick-up in the middle of nowhere. The driver felt bad for me and dropped me off at a guesthouse, but there was no water available and I spent the night puking into a flush-it-yourself toilet.

That being said, I learned a lot from this experience. At 19, many would have thought it was crazy to meet some strangers and hitchhike with them. Maybe it was. But even when I sick, even when I was at my lowest, people stepped in and took care of me. Travel can be brutal sometimes. You have to rely on the kindness of strangers and throw all the comfortable, familiarities of life out the window. However, when you do, you learn that the world is a pretty amazing place. You learn that sometimes it’s okay to just switch off the news and experience life the way it’s meant to be lived. You learn not to just to rely on others, but to trust in yourself. I’ll never forget the feeling of absolute freedom that I felt that day-hair blowing in the wind and laughing as we hurtled over bumpy roads and potholes. It’s one of those moments where you feel absolutely infinite, and when you find it, you’ll remember that feeling forever.

This traveller has a blog : Way farer Kate

credit photo : Way farer Kate
Bali cliffs
Splashy moment in Bali

Splashy moment in Bali

A moment lived in Indonesia by Agnes, a traveller from Estonia

Nusa Dua peninsula became one of my favourite spots in Bali during my six months of internship there. I am going to tell you about the moment I and my boyfriend visited the place for the first time.

We lived in the capital but the peninsula was about one hour ride away from our place. The ride was rather long and we already had heard the rumours about the corrupted police. Thus, we asked for some advice from a local. If you are a tourist, it does not matter if you are a law obeying citizen who follows all the rules or you break the law, drive without a helmet, a licence or don’t stop at a red light, the police will stop you no matter what. The local advised us to wear long clothes to cover our skin so we would be less noticeable. Also to have a little money in our wallet prepared for the police in case they will stop you and keep the rest of the money somewhere else. This way you can show the police that this is all the money you have and they cannot bribe you for more.

Fully prepared, our ride could start. Luckily we did not meet any greedy policeman. Just the other day we stopped exactly on the stop line while a local feeling the need for speed passed us and drove through the red light. Guess who had to pay the fine?

Finally, when we arrived, the beautiful white sand and blue water were greeting us. The peninsula was packed with restaurants and resorts. It is actually a very touristy place and usually, I am not very fond of mass tourism, but the place is so beautiful you cannot help but fall in love with it. The water was very clear with starfish peeking out once in a while. It was also very warm and made you feel like you are taking a hot relaxing bath. The sun was shining and nothing could be better.

There is one special spot on there, a little island covered with trees donated from other countries and a viewing platform. A little disappointed not finding a tree from my country we went on to the viewing platform. This spot was amazing. The platform was created on top of the rocks surrounded by blue water. You could just sit or stand there on the platform watching the waves crashing the rocks. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller splashes. You could notice small crabs climbing on the rocks underneath you. There was a huge group of people observing the waves, making pictures and videos. And suddenly the unexpected happened. A wave so strong and high hit the rocks and before you could even realise what was about to happen the whole crowd was completely wet. I gathered my thoughts being completely soaked and picturing myself sitting there ready to take a picture with my phone but the wave completely covered me instead.

After that moment the whole crowd was squealing and screaming and running back to the ground, far away from the viewing platform. I could not help but laugh at the next site: all the people standing there soaked trying to dry themselves and their precious expensive cameras, smartphones and iPads. The people were all laughing too while screwing their technological equipment apart to dry. People, who just arrived, were not sure anymore if to go on the platform or not. Most people were cautious and the platform stayed empty for a while. I wish I had some rice to dry up my phone. I have heard that rice can absorb the moisture completely leaving the device undamaged. My phone fell into a coma and I had to get ready for a less funny moment when I receive the bill for the reparation work.

Even thought my phone died I would still relive the moment. It was hilarious and exciting at the same time. And we kept going there afterwards, believe it or not, trying to get wet again. The following times we were smarter, though. One of us went on the platform and the other was left behind to capture it and protect our precious items.

After being already wet we went for a swim in the warm glistening water and did some sunbathing on the white sand. We ended our day eating out at a treehouse restaurant. The restaurant had multiple treehouses and you could take a table on one of them. The waiters guided us to a free treehouse, which had three floors and we took the top floor. I was surprised how the waiters could climb the trees every day and carry dishes and drinks to people. The place had a big table and you were sitting on the ground on some cushions. And so we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed our meal. This was the perfect ending to our day. Bellies full almost dried up and smile on our faces.

This traveller has a blog : Look at Her go

credit photo : Agnes