Tag Archives: view

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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I was totally unprepared when I traveled to Portugal. I never intended to go to Portugal this year and when I booked my flights I mainly went to do a long distance walk. So I landed in Lisbon without any expectations and without the pressure to follow a list of must-sees. In the days before my departure I’d quickly tried to look up some attractions, but I mainly spent my days wandering through the city and I loved it! Lisbon sits in an absolutely extraordinary location. Although it’s not located by the ocean, it lies on the river Tagus, which is so wide in Lisbon that it feels like you are by the sea. A massive, high bridge, lookalike of the Golden Gate bridge stretches over the river to connect some of Lisbon’s suburbs on the other bank. The beautiful Praça do Comércio can be found near the river and…

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I don’t know what the rules are. Just enter? Or does that sign in Thai say something like ‘Do not enter. Beware of dog. Fine of 5000 Baht’. I risk it. I’m not sure where I am going, but eventually I come across a ticket office. For 20 baht I can climb the golden mountain. As is the custom in Buddhist temples, a sign reminds people to take off their shoes. The first part of the staircase is a waterfall, so I tie my pants around the knee as well. The steps are tiny, so I take two at a time. On the sides are bells, flamingo statues and of course Buddhas. I’m already amused by the kitchy flamingo’s, but when I come around the corner I halt. The view is breath-taking. I am there at the right time too. The sun is about to set and puts the city…

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Goodbye day. Most of my group went home and only me and two boys stayed behind in Rome. Since I had an extra day in Rome I decided to drag the boys out to the Vatican for some self-reflection and amazing views. As always the line to get into the Vatican’s massive cathedral St Peter was humongous. Salespeople attacked us guerilla style, coming in from all sides. “Skip the line. Only 30 euro and you don’t have to wait. Guided tour.” There is no skipping this line. Entry into the cathedral is free, but you’ll have to endure a wait in Rome’s hot climate. And so we did. The line moved quickly and we had some fun talking to the Swedish man behind us and answering silly questions on cards. We were on holy ground within an hour, after setting off the metal detector with my bra and wrapping a…

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Sometimes being a tour leader can be stressful. You’ve got people asking you all kind of questions you don’t know the answer to. You have to find out those answers, show them the way, give them suggestions for things to do, arrange train tickets… and then also make sure you’ve booked a table at a restaurant that will appeal to all. That last one is always so tricky, especially as a beginning leader, when you haven’t got a big list to choose from. Luckily the world is full of people who eat and some of them are willing to share. So I found an old recommendation for a restaurant in Prague. For some reason the restaurant I found was in a totally different location than the suggestion, but all the other info was right. So I decided to go for a walk and check it out. I needed to go…

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I spent quite a bit of time outdoors in the last two weeks. There have only been a couple of days that I haven’t been out and about, exploring forests, mountains or coastal areas. There is something calming about being out there. It’s just you and your thoughts, or perhaps some music. Everything is simple. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Every now and then you stand still to admire a view and tell yourself how lucky your are. This moment is from Nelson Lakes national park, looking out over lake Rotoiti after a pretty challenging climb.

When I mentioned at work that I was going to Hanmer Springs, I got a tip from my kiwi colleague. She said I should definitely stop past the high bridge and enjoy the view. So all the way from Christchurch to Hanmer I was looking at the bridges. When I saw it, it was obvious. The bridge is indeed high, and the jetboats race underneath it. It’s a one-way bridge you have to cross to get to Hanmer from highway 7. Drive down the windy road and after a couple of minutes there is a small parking area. My colleague was right. The views are amazing!  

The Flinders Ranges stretch out over 400km, so if you want to make the most of it, stay for at least a week. Many of it can only be done by 4WD drive though, but there are still some good options for regular cars as well. Via the town of Hawker you can drive to Wilpena Pound. Hawker is a nice place to stop since there are some artists around. This town used to be a stop on the Ghan Railway. From Hawker it’s a 55km drive to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges national park. Wilpena Pound is a 80km2 plain surrounded by mountains. Aboriginal dreaming says the mountains were two snakes that disturbed a ceremony and devoured all the people participating in it. Wilpena Pound has a restaurant and campsite with swimming pool. From here you can choose from a range of walks. I took an 8km walk to…

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Roy’s peak is a walk in Wanaka that’s all about the destination. Unless you would like to experience some true kiwi life by walking through piles of shit. The path is scattered with cow and sheep dung. Being a farm track, the path is also wide and easy to walk on. The rewarding bit is not the way up though, it’s the view that is waiting at the end. The first part of the track goes through private farm land, which means you are accompanied by sheep and/or cows on you strenuous walk. I’m not sure what to think about this. You are walking uphill, a big hill at that, and little birds with yellow bellies fly right past you. Then a cow turns her head, looks at you, and decides to run. Run! To me walking is already exhausting and this cow runs through the grass. The Roy’s peak…

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When I was in Riga spring and winter were competing. There were sunny days where the snow started melting and the streets were covered in a mixture of snow and big puddles of brown water. Winter didn’t give in and just added some new snow and a fresh wind that went through all your clothes. Riga was still pretty though, no matter what the weather was. I wrapped myself in some warm clothes and set off to explore the museums. Firstly I went to a church where you can climb the tower for a view over the city. Inside, an old lady told me exactly which ticket I needed and directed me up the stairs. On the second floor was an old, no ancient, elevator. The doors opened showing another old lady, reading a magazine on a small stool next to a small heater. With a big jolt the elevator started to move. I couldn’t…

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