Category Archives: East

My friend and I were planning our trip to Albania. We needed some beach time, but the popular beaches like Sarande were a little too far for our liking. With the short time we had, we needed something a bit closer to the capital. What about Vlorë? Vlorë? Vlora? What’s the name of this place? Why does it have two names? Vlorë. It’s the third biggest city in Albania and about midway between Greece and Montenegro. Why not. Getting to Vlorë from Berat was easy enough. Only, our van had us waiting for several hours until it was full and ready to depart. After all that waiting we ended up with too many passengers and a family we picked up along the way had to sit in the aisle, with the mum on a tiny fold out stool. The poor little boy got car sick and we had to stop…

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My first day in Tirana was not exactly what I’d expected. I’d arrived after midnight the night before and the hostel had an interesting ‘room’ that was somehow connected to the rest of the space without a proper wall. So the 10 bed dorm could hear all the noise from the hallway. Besides, the 6 or 8 bed dorm upstairs had an open ‘wall’, so people could stare right into our room. Basically I felt like I was sleeping in a massive dorm and I felt so bad when I had to brush my teeth in the ‘bathroom’ which was just some wash basins in the middle of the room. Anyway, it was my first day in Tirana and I was excited to see some of it. My hostel didn’t have tea at breakfast, so I made my way to the main street, got some cash out and sat down…

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Taking public transport in Albania takes time. Our bus didn’t leave on time, so we arrived in the late afternoon at the bus station, just outside of the city. However, the ride from Tirana to Berat was pretty smooth. Minutes after arriving a local bus arrived. My friend and I hopped on, hoping it would take us towards Berat’s old town. Although we weren’t 100% sure, all the other tourists followed. We were staying in the Gorica part of town, across the river. It is one half of the Unesco protected part of the city. Our hostel was in one of the typical local houses that Berat is known for. They spread out from the river all the way up the hill and create the most picturesque cityscape. When we saw the river we hit the stop button. It was only a short walk to the hostel. I was eager…

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Wrocław wasn’t on my travel wish list. But when my Bari-Krakow-Berlin flight changed into a Bari-Krakow flight, I started looking around for a place to work from around Krakow. Wrocław was only a 3 to 4 hour train ride away and it looked nice in my google image search. I still knew nothing about the city when I finally arrived at 10.30PM. I pulled my suitcase to my hostel, got annoyed there were no lockers in the room, slept it all off and opened my work laptop in the morning for some remote work. Only at lunchtime I got the chance to go on a brief walk and get a glimpse of this great city. Although I was mostly on the lookout for a place to get lunch, I saw some small statues from the corner of my eye. I vaguely remembered hearing about these Wrocław gnomes or dwarfs, but…

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After a snowy day I woke up to bright blue skies, the sun piercing through my window on the top floor of the old mansion was staying at. I walked down the big wooden staircase again, past the animal heads and antlers on the walls. On my way out the hotel owner asked where I was going. I hoped to hike to two lakes: Biele and Zelene Pleso. He wished me a good day and got back into the reception area. First I walked through the park towards the incredibly good-looking Grand Hotel Praha. Behind it the trail goes past the Sorea hotel and then slowly up the mountain. At the bottom the autumn colors were still mixed in with some bright green. I crossed a little bridge covered in yellow and orange leaves. It was the most idyllic and serene place. As soon as I walked uphill it changed…

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I’m a big fan of fairytale castles and if I have the chance to visit one, I’ll usually take it. As I researched Slovakia there was an overwhelming choice of castles. All kinds of castles; medieval, fortresses, fairytale, mansions… you name it. Luckily my friend send me a list of recommendations in her home country. Bojnice Castle was one of them. I made a rough trip itinerary and refined it once I was in the country. This gave me the freedom to stay longer in the High Tatras, a place I totally fell in love with. I figured I could just about squeeze in my other top spots and scheduled Bojnice Castle on my way from the Slovak Paradise to Bratislava. I would stay for one night, take a train to Bratislava in the morning and still have some time in the capital. Well… that turned out to be too…

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Of all the canyons in the Slovak Paradise national park, Prielom Hornádu is one of the few, if not the only, that is a two-way street. This made it perfect for a loop, taking a detour via Kláštorská roklina, monastery gorge, up to the monastery ruins, down a steep forest trail, past the Tomášovský viewpoint and back along the river. It’s a 19km adventure taking you over ladders and steps, high over the water, hugging the rocks and immerses you in the forest. It’s a beautiful fall day when I make my way to the start. It’s early, but the sun is already driving away the clouds. I walk down the road, away from the town Hrabušice, and find the Hornád river near an intersection. A sign directs me to a path through the fields, alongside the river. Further along is a small rest area where a man is enjoying…

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Sucha Bela is one of the most famous hikes in the Slovak Paradise. While researching I’d read it could get pretty busy, so busy even that there may be small traffic jams on the trail. Imagine my surprise when I found a pretty quiet Slovak Paradise. It turns out October was not a popular month for people to visit the national park, even though all the trails are still open till the end of the month (some, like the via ferrata, close for winter). It meant that I didn’t have to wait for people on the narrow trails and that all my photos were all about nature. It also meant I was extra careful, and very aware that I was hiking by myself. From my base in Hrabušice I followed the main road to Podlesok. I passed empty parking lots and arrived at the eerily quiet base. There were some…

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For my last day in the High Tatras I took a train to Strbské Pleso and chose the popular route to Popradske Pleso. It felt so much busier than the other trails I’ve done. Perhaps it was because it was Friday, perhaps because the sun was finally out and the sky was mostly blue. Lots of people were arriving in the small town and heading either for the ski lift or the trails. Right from the start of the trail I noticed a lot of people chose the same route I did. I had hoped that after the snow from 2 days ago I would be able to go a bit further than Popradske Pleso, to Hincovo Pleso, but I had never thought I’d be able to climb even higher. Today was the day of the unexpected. The morning started easy, with a pleasant forest path that wasn’t too challenging.…

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A holiday in October… anything can happen. October can bring the unexpected sunshine that makes you think it is spring. It can also quickly remind you that winter is around the corner. Today was one of those days. I woke up to find out the temperature was around zero and rain was forecasted for the majority of the day. I went down to the breakfast room and sat next to the window. But wait… is that… white? The top of the cars was covered in a tiny layer of snow, although what was coming down was mostly wet and not sticking to the ground. Due to the weather and other plans I’d scheduled a short hike and I braced myself for the cold. I had leggings and waterproof trousers, two layers and my rain jacket. I hadn’t exactly packed for winter, so until I started my hike I was freezing.…

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