“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” H.D. Thoreau
…or in case of this trip, my friend and I went to the mountains and came out taller than all the peaks. When we started planning our nature getaway that we wanted to fill with hiking, biking and eating, my friend and I could have not picked a better place. Slovenia is a tiny country in Central and South-eastern Europe bordering the Mediterranean and touching the Alps. This alpine treasure is often overlooked by tourists because the beach-goers head straight to Croatia or Italy and mountain enthusiast choose the safe bet of northern Italy or Austria, possible also France. But this country with rolling hills, snow-capped mountain peaks and enchanting valleys is pretty much an outdoors paradise for every budget.
“I love Barcelona”, “It is my favourite city in Europe”, “Oh Barcelona, I would love to move there one day….”. These are examples of some of the reactions I heard when I had mentioned I was planning a trip to Barcelona earlier this year. The place is often referred as one of the prettiest cities in Europe so it is no surprise that Barcelona had been holding a very high spot on my travel bucket list for quite some time. Actually, I can’t believe that with the amount of travel I like to do, I turned 26 without ticking this one off. So, in the beginning of the summer 2017, I decided to finally fly to the capital of Catalonia and see what all the fuss is about.
Looking back on the summer of ’17 I can say with certainty that it was not short on adventures and bucket list experiences. Yes, I do have an actual list of things I want to do or try, events I want to attend, places I want to see or visit (and in this case fly over😊), memories I would like to collect or simply moments I wish to have in my life one day. And while my 7-pages-long list (in fact, it is still growing) is not really focused on anything materialistic (although that Vespa and VW camper van hold their spots pretty high!), it includes several experiences that should bring my adrenaline quite high … pretty much anything like skydiving, bungee jumping, zip lining, base jumping, portaledging, maybe even base jumping one day, who knows.
I was sitting in a coffee bar on the main square of Favignana’s centro with a rental bike parked by my side waiting for my breakfast to be ready. It was very early in the morning, still a bit chilly but I could already feel the first sunshine rays warming my face. The sky was cloudless and the square was calm, only now and then there was somebody riding their bike across the square probably going to work or local market. I took out my map of the island and ran my fingers across it to plan how to get to different beaches while tiny kitten came to hang out under my table. A handsome Italian waiter was making my coffee latte.
Hot as a jalapeño pepper, pristine as the colour of the Caribbean Sea, ancient as the Mayan ruins, wild as the waves of Pacific Ocean and colourful as the paper flags decorating the streets …. That’s how I see Mexico, diverse and captivating.
I never really knew much about Sicily. I was only aware that it is an Italian island located in the Mediterranean Sea with the mysterious capital city Palermo known for once being a home of the “Godfather” mafia and that Sicily’s most iconic landmark may be the active volcano Mt. Etna…so it was about time to delve into what real Sicily hides in its corners.
India is a crazy place, there’s no doubt about that, and just thinking of the time I spent there brings back so many feelings and emotions. It can be overwhelming, noisy and chaotic but also peaceful, spiritual and somehow soothing. In my opinion there are not that many countries in the world that would hold so many contrasts within their borders and could possibly be so irritating yet absolutely lovable. This place has strong claws so you better brace yourself.
“Home is wherever you park it.”
That is music to my ears. The possibility of stopping anywhere I want, taking back roads to see something special, driving through detours just because I feel like it, listening to music while enjoying the empty roads and soaking up the scenery…. that is the kind of flexibility and independence I was craving during many of my travels.
I was waiting in line at the Beijing Airport ready to board my final flight to Auckland to finish my journey to the other side of the world as an older man standing in front of me started chatting with me. We were small talking about weather in China, airport food and long layovers. He told me he was from Wellington and I told him how excited I was to visit New Zealand. Right before we had gone our separate ways, he smiled and told me: “Miss, don’t go to New Zealand. It will spoil you for life. There aren’t many places that can beat this incredible beauty.”
According to Jay z and Alicia Keys the streets of New York will make you feel brand new and there is nothing you can’t do but that might not be the case if you are short on cash. On the other hand, New York is by far one of the coolest places I have ever visited and the opportunities are endless so it would be a shame to let money stop you from having fun.
Before we started planing our Moroccan adventure, my friend and I had managed to get pretty cheap flight tickets with Ryanair (tip: try to go somewhere else then Marrakech). Soon enough we had realized why they were even more low-cost than usual. The date of our trip was in June which is a month of Muslim holiday Ramadan, generally not a very popular time to travel to Muslim countries.
Thanks to its beautiful beaches, washed by even more beautiful Caribbean waters, all surrounded by splendid palm trees and a tropical breeze Puerto Rico rightly earned the nickname “Island of Enchantment”. But there is a lot more to Puerto Rico than “just” spectacular beaches. It is also a home of verdant nature, historic cities and warm-hearted locals which when bundled together, makes for a perfect vacation.
Waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, exotic charm of the Sahara desert, high peaks of the Atlas Mountains, Arab culture, Berber traditions and magic of the ancient towns with the combination of the proximity to the European continent caused that Moroccan Kingdom has recently been experiencing a massive boost of tourism. Nicknamed Maghreb (“Arab west”), this African treasure had always been very high on my bucket list but this year I finally got to cross it off. And it was all I imagined and even more.
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is often a quick stop for travelers looking for a weekend getaway or a starting point before exploring the entire country. Plus with the increasing number of international flights operated not only by Portuguese airlines, the city is slowly but surely becoming more popular destination for layovers, which was my case on the way to the US. And as per usual, my itchy feet didn’t let me go somewhere without making the most of my stopover.
Recently I’ve read a quote that said: „If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be the diamond“, which I couldn’t agree more with. Home to some of the best kept architecture in Europe, Prague’s monumental castle, picturesque cobblestone streets and charming spires have turned the city into a real life fairy tale. Add good beer and fun nightlife both for low prices and no wonder Prague has lately been experiencing the tourist boom.
I have been proudly calling Prague my home since 2010 so it felt about right that my first published article would be focused on this central European treasure. And because a list of “Top 10 things to do” didn’t seem to be enough for Prague, I doubled it and, combining the tourist point of view with the local insight, I created an ultimate guide to the Pragadise.