ROAD TRIP BABY – Scotland edition

Adventures, Travels

I had the most perfect trip in June. The most amazing road trip. In a country that left me quite speechless. Taken back by its beauty…

… introducing Scotland.

Seriously though, how have I grown up not knowing how insanely picturesque Scotland’s nature was!? I mean I had an idea that it was beautiful, but what awaited me on the other side of the English border I just hadn’t expected.

The trip was a birthday surprise for my boyfriend, and thus I got to do all of the planning by myself. I quickly decided on a camper van and booked through Spaceships Rentals which worked flawlessly. As always I didn’t plan anything until the last minute, but a few nights before the trip I sat down and spend the night researching – plotting the best places I found into a map that could work as inspiration for the journey we were embarking on.

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I edited out the lovey-dovey birthday message from the two post-its.

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This was the back of the map – How incredible do these places look!?

Apparently, I did my research well, cause when he arrived in Edinburgh and was filled in on what we’d be doing he was on-board with my suggested plan. And so the adventure could start.

As we both arrived late in the evening (me from London and him from Copenhagen), I had booked an airport hotel for the first night. When we woke up in the morning we headed straight towards the car rental and started DAY 1 of our road trip.

Meet Arthur – our best friend for the trip.

Our first stop was…. the supermarket. We stocked up on snacks and food that could be cooked on the portable stove that came with our van. We ended up eating everything, and actually only ate at a restaurant once.

Two happy campers ready to goooo.

Since I don’t have a license and my boyfriend had previously voiced that he didn’t care too much for driving on the wrong side of the road, I had been super nervous leading up to the surprise. Everything turned out okay though – the driving wasn’t that bad for him and he only almost got us killed once.

Our first pitstop was this cute little village that we spotted from the side of the road.

The landscape was so beautiful.

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Spot a happy fool.

On the first day, we didn’t do any hikes but were mainly in awe of the landscape from the comfort of the car. We drove past Loch Lomond and through Glen Coe. We had considered hiking to the top of Ben Nevis, but that would take a full day and with our limited time in Scotland, we decided that our efforts were better spent elsewhere.

We tried to find a spot to sleep with a view of Ben Nevis, but we didn’t succeed. In Scotland, you can park your campervan and sleep everywhere as long as you’re not bothering the traffic or anyone, unless stated otherwise. The last part of that sentence is crucial since there are loads of signs stating “no overnight parking”. It can be a bit challenging finding a spot to sleep, but we only had an issue on our first night there.

We ended up finding a big parking spot that we could spend the night at. It turned out to be a parking spot made for the film crew when they were filming Braveheart right in the area.

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First time trying to make the bed inside a campervan.

I succeded!

Jonas enjoying his morning coffee in front of the beautiful view from our bed.

Scotland was my first ever (but definitely not last!) campervan experience, and as you can see from the smile on my face below I was quite excited after having had my first night in a campervan.

With a good night’s sleep, we were ready to embark on DAY 2 of the road trip. Before take-off, we went for a walk in the area around the parking spot to and I collected a bouquet of flowers from the fields.

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Back on the road!

Our first stop was at the Ben Nevis Distillery, but sadly their next tour didn’t start for another two hours, so we ditched the whiskey tour this time around.

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Scotland is a land of contrast. And incredible light.

 

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Eilean Donan Castle.

 

I hadn’t added any castles to the road trip layout I had made for Jonas, but we passed by a few on our chosen path anyways. This was the Eilean Donan Castle. We only saw it from the outside cause we were too cheap to pay the entrance fee. It was still a beautiful sight. There’s quite a big difference to low-tide and high-tide – at low-tide, you can almost walk to the castle without using the bridge.

When we got back in the car after hanging out at the castle we finally made it to the Isle of Skye. Up until now, we had seen some incredibly beautiful nature, but the mainland of Scotland has NOTHING on the Isle of Skye. Just wait…

Our first stop on the Isle of Skye was the Fairy Pools. When we got there it was pouring down (!). The epic thing about having a campervan is that you can just go to the back of the car and boom – you’re in your bed. So that’s what we did. After chilling (and maybe a little nap?) we opened our eyes and the rain had stopped.

We got out of the car and made some coffee on our portable stove before we headed out on the hike.

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Even though it was far from the blue skyed pictures with crystal clear water we had seen, it was still so beautiful.

 

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Suddenly the sun came out and revealed (once again) the most beautiful of contrast.

 

After the Fairy Pools, we hit the road again. This time around our destination was the Neist Point Lighthouse. We were both awestruck by the beauty of the Isle of Skye. Even staying on the road the sights were incredible.

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I mean…

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I fell in love with lambs on the trip (how could you not!?). More pictures will follow hehe.

 

We made it! The drive had been a bit tricky, there were no “no overnight parking” signs, and the view from the parking lot was AMAZING, so we instantly decided that we’d spend the night by the lighthouse.

 

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Not your average parking spot view.

 

From the parking spot, we embarked on the walk to the lighthouse. And it was a BEAUTIFUL (I can sense that I am using both the word “beautiful” and caps way too much in this post, but I just can’t help it..).

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The Neist Point Lighthouse.

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Behind-the-scenes.

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Hi, I love you.

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The lighthouse was abandoned quite a few years ago, but it used to house sailors in cabins surrounding the lighthouse.

We were in the mood to explore, so we jumped a fence to be able to go have a closer look at the cabins. Looking through the windows felt a bit like a scene out of a horror movie, as you could see books, medicines, and alcohol bottles had just been left behind.

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Hello friend.

 

Back at the car we put on a bit more clothes and headed on another walk to watch the lighthouse (and the sunset) from a different angle.

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The most serene of views.

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The sun set into the ocean as we shared a bottle of wine and thus it became … dinner time! The menu was some kind of soup and naan bread. Cooked on the portable stove in front of Arthur.

 

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Hi! The next picture shows the view from my kitchen.

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The view from our bed on the second night.

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Goodnight baby.

We woke up to pouring rain. Well-rested and happy we made it to the front of the car and off we were on DAY 3.

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After driving for a little the rain had calmed down and it was time to stop so we could fix the most important mourning routine: COFFEE! For breakfast, we had yogurt with granola and blueberries each day. There was a small fridge in the back of the car which worked perfectly for storing our food (and beer).

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DAY 3 was definitely the most adventurous of them all. We went on two different hikes and got lost on top of a mountain. Like really lost. But more on that in a bit.

The first hike of the day was the circle hike around Quiraing. The beauty of this place was insane. You can see it for yourself.

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Ready to go with the safest hiking candy of them all: the lollipop.

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I mean look at this!

The coolest thing about hiking at Quiraing is that the scenery is constantly changing with each corner you turn.

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The timer queen strikes again!

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Behind the scenes.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip.

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Now we’ve gotten to the point where things started going WRONG. After hiking for quite some time we took a break and sat down. The fog was increasingly getting denser, and when we got up we must’ve somehow taken the wrong path.

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Unknowingly walking straight into a bad situation. Bye-bye!

So after walking through the dense fog for quite some time, we realize that we have zero ideas where we’re going. There are moments where we think we’re walking on some kind of path, but most of the time we’re way off the beaten path. And for a while, we keep going back and forth between those two scenarios. Did I mention that the fog was dense? The beautiful view from earlier was completely gone. All we could see was fog.

We get the idea to start walking uphill. It looks like we can see the top of the mountain, and we figure that we’ll be able to spot where we’re supposed to go from up there. We start walking up. We keep walking up. We reach what looks like the top more than once, but it just keeps going up. The reeds are knee-high in places, and there are quite deep holes in the ground scattered around.

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We realize that we had just been on the other side of the mountain and seen the steep drop from the top and down on the other side, so we decided to give up on the hope of reaching the top. I was starting to panic a bit. “Are we gonna have to sleep here?”, “We’re running out of water”, “fuck – we parked our car in a deserted parking lot – no one will know we’re up here”. We had zero services, but Goggle Maps (I LOVE YOU) were still able to show us our location. We knew where we had parked the car and could sort of make out the directions we should be going in. And so we continued. Jonas succeeded in calming me down, but every few minutes I made him stop to hug me.

All of sudden a fence appeared through the fog. We had seen a fence on the other side of the mountain, so we figured if we just followed the fence we would somehow make it back on the route. And so we did. Up. Up. Up.

After what seemed like an eternity but in reality was an hour or so of being stuck in the fog, we finally made it back to clarity. The fence had saved our lives (or so it felt like) and I could breathe properly again.

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Yay, we survived! Being lost on top of a mountain is quite the relationship challenges, and I’d say we aced it.

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The beauty was back once again.

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I’m pointing to the small deserted parking spot where we parked Arthur (Jonas is attempting to play along). We’re coming for you Arthur!!!!

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It definitely wasn’t an easy hike (especially not since we decided to stray from the route…) but well worth the hassle!

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THE CONTRAST THOUGH.

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You and me.

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And so we made it back to Arthur.

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Jonas cooked lunch …

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… and I calmed the last bit of my worried nerves with a beer in hand.

After chilling in the back of Arthur the scary experience of being lost on top of a mountain in Scotland had left the body, and we were left with nothing but a quite good story.

After driving a few minutes we turned a corner, and Jonas spotted something falling from the top of the car onto the road. We both instantly realized that we had left our hiking boots on top of the car to dry, but of course, had forgotten to bring them back into the car… Jonas’ boots we’re still on the roof and mine had luckily both fallen off right then and there, so I could collect them from the road with no harm happened. Whoops. It’s never a good idea to put something on the roof of a car…

The next stop of the day was Kilt Rocks and Melt Falls. A beautiful waterfall just by the side of the road.

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Melt Falls.

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We were both quite exhausted after the Quiraing hike, but we had one more hike planned for the day, and we knew it was one that couldn’t be missed. We parked the car by the Old Man of Storr and got ready to head up high once more.

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Pushing the last bit of adventure out of tired legs.

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The Old Man of Storr can be spotted to the left. It was possible to hike up to the right so you were leveled with the Man himself, but we didn’t have enough energy to go that high.

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Even though we didn’t hike to the very top, the view we got still landed on the top 5 list of most stunning views I’ve ever seen.

Sadly the pictures don’t even come close to justifying how beautiful it was, but here’s an attempt.

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It’s the depth of the view that really got to me. It just keeps going and going.

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I mean look at this!!!

We made it back down and started driving back towards the mainland, where we were planning to spend the last night.

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A roadblock Isle of Skye style.

On the way back we made it through Portree; the main city of the Isle of Skye. We arrived just in time for sunset and got to see this beautiful view.

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Beautiful pastel-colored houses.

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After quite a long drive we made it off of the Isle of Skye and back to the mainland. We were getting quite desperate for a place to sleep, and we passed the Eilean Donan Castle once again, we agreed that the “no overnight parking” could be interpreted to only mean one side of the parking lot, and so we took a chance and parked here for the night.

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Solid view for a tooth-brushing session.

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The last campervan bedroom view wasn’t bad at all!

Just as we were getting up someone knocked on our window. Jonas had luckily just gotten dressed and could answer the knock. Turns out we weren’t allowed to spend the night there. Whoops. We quickly made it to the front of the car and drove off into DAY 4 of the road-trip.

Since we had made it quite far away from Edinburgh and we had to hand over the car at 4 pm in time to catch our flights, DAY 4 was just a driving day.

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The best right-sided driver.

We drove through the Cairngorms National Park and saw some more beautiful places, but the only stop we made was one to clean up the car and do the dishes.

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Parking lot dishwasher at your service.

And just like that four amazing days had passed us by in Scotland. We made it back to Spaceships Rental place and handed over the keys to Arthur.

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Bye-bye Arthur!

We both agreed it was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. To me, it definitely put the idea of an extended weekend trip into perspective. I’ve always thought about cities only when opting for a short trip, but the number of experiences we squeezed into four days in a campervan proved to me that there are so many other options out there.

It’s definitely not the last time we’ve taken a trip in a campervan, that is for sure. The freedom of being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want is amazing. And for two nap loving people like us, always having your bed right by your side is genius.

// Annika

Dream come true – Floating above Cappadocia

Adventures

As I mentioned in my Cappadocia post; flying in a hot air balloon above the magical landscape of Cappadocia is what brought me to Turkey in the first place.

And I honestly couldn’t think of any other activity that could get me to set my alarm for 3:37 am. For the hot air balloon I did it without complaining.

Getting up was actually easy peasy. It always is when you’re truly excited for something, regardless of the time. And it also helped that a few other people in my dorm room were also getting up, and for those that were still a sleep I couldn’t leave my alarm ringing.

After quickly getting ready I walked out of my dorm room and saw the stars, and instantly got the most amazing feeling in my stomach. The sky was completely clear and I could see sooo many stars. Also at this point in time I knew that the trip was really happening. This was a major relief since it had been cancelled three days in a row before I got to Cappadocia due to too much wind.

I got picked up by a car that did a few stops around Göreme and then took us to the balloon central. Coincidentally the three sweet Australians that I had watched the worldcup finally with were also in my car. Here we had a tiny breakfast and was briefed on what was going to happen. We then got in a car with the pilot we were granted, and off towards the ballons we were. At first our driver couldn’t find our pilot or our balloon. We probably spent an extra 10-15 minutes driving around before we finally located Deniz. That made me a bit worried, as I was about to majorly challenge on of my fears (heights!) and really just wanted everything to run smoothly. In the end everything worked out, and before I knew it the balloon was slowly but steadily being filled with air.

As we first started ascending a little girl on board started singing “I believe I can fly, I belive I can touch the sky” – It was so cliché, but with those words she nailed what I was feeling too.  But now, let’s let the pictures do the talking.

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Seeing the big valley with all of the balloons going up was beautiful in itself, and at this point I still didn’t even know what was coming for me.

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Thats me right there! We were about 20 people in the basket, but it was big enough for everyone to stand by the side. The basket was dividided in to four parts. I shared my little compartment with a an aussie couple on their honeymoon and a british couple (living in L.A) on a quick get-away from their kids.

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The landscape though…

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The background on my Iphone has been a picture of me surfing in Sri Lanka for the last 2 years, but this picture have beaten it for now. Just. Wow.

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Hiiii from a happy potato

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I mean……

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Notice the bride in the middle of a photoshoot!!!!

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There’s about 100 balloons in the air each morning.

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Descending!

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Bye bye my beautiful balloon.

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Our lovely pilot Deniz.

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As we were landing one of the guys catching us plucked a flower mid-landing and gave it to me. So sweet.

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We celebrated our trip with a cherry juice champagne drink and a piece of cake.

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The landscape bathing in the orange dawn light was too good to be true.

I got back to my hotel at 7 am and wow. They brand it as being an experience of a lifetime, and it truly was. It was worth every penny. It didn’t feel real. I was left, and really still am, speechless.

// Annika

Hiking through Cappadocia

Adventures, Travels

The whole reason for my Turkey trip was visiting the Cappadocia region and more specifically; flying in a hot air ballon above Cappadocia.

I had decided to take a night bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia to save time and not travel during the day. This was a BIG mistake. Here’s a little something I wrote while on the bus:

I’m awake after a night of horror. I woke up when a crying baby was sat down next to me. Why? How? Nightbus never again.

We made a stop. I took of my sleeping mask and pulled out my earplugs. I ran to the bathroom. I got Oreos. I returned to the bus.

We took off again and my eyes were starting to adjust to the light. When I really opened my eyes I realized how beautiful it was. Mountains to the left, flat fields and a lake to the right. A sheephurder passed by with hundreds of sheeps. The sun was rising, and the light was orange. Everything was peaceful, and the baby had stopped crying.

A dead sheep on the side of the road put a dimmer on my joy for a second, but then there was sunflower fields. And how can you not smile when looking at a sunflower field?

The bus driver and steward only spoke Turkish. We made multiple stops, but each time I didn’t understand what they were saying. I kept checking Google maps; a lifesaver for always being able to check you your location, even with no service. I still kept asking “Goreme?” just to make sure. But no no, not yet. I got flashbacks to China visiting the Chinese wall. I looked up from typing this and all of sudden the scenery had changed. The caves, the fairy chimneys. There they were. And it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Welcome to Cappadocia.

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Happy camper!

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The first view of the incredible Cappadocia landscape

I spent four days in Cappadocia, which I’d say is the perfect amount of time. You can do a lot of hikes, but still rest and relax. There’s no stress. My time in Cappadocia was affected by the fact that I had a cold and couldn’t do crazy hikes, so I relaxed a bit more than I usually would’ve done. I can definitely return in a few years to see the rest, but I still feel like I experienced a whole lot. My days went someting like this:

Day 1
The first day in Cappadocia was unreal. I saw what I think is the most spectacular landscape I’ve ever seen (but then what about all of the other places I can’t help but think). I had the most gewy ice cream and mashed potatoes of my life (I love gewy as a consistency) and I slept in the softest bed sheets of my life. Wowza that’s a good day. Not to mention my incredibly adventurous and thrilling hikes.

I arrived early in the morning at the bus station and walked straight to my hotel. I had booked a bed in a dorm room at a hotel, which was really nice since the place manages to both have the more luxurious hotel feeling and the feel of a hostel at the same time. I arrived at the hotel too early to check in, so I just changed my clothes and dropped off my bag.

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Like most of the hotels in Göreme, the place I had booked had most of its rooms placed in caves

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I headed straight for the famous Open Air Museum, but on the way there I spotted some caves of off the side of the road that I wanted to explore. Doing so turned out to be the best possible start to my Cappadocia adventure, as I ventured through some seriously cool caves off of the beaten track. And I had it all to myself.

Being all by myself and venturing into the caves, it turned out that I was a bit scared of actually entering the caves. For some reason, my solution to this was filming myself while doing so, which actually worked really well. A big bonus to that is that I was left with a bunch of videos of my actual reactions of seeing the caves, and with those videos I’ve made this little film (I speak danish though..).

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This landscape. I have no words.

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My happy face after exploring the first cave. I could not have been more in my element.

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Back on the track I headed toward the Open Air Museum. The museum was really cool, mainly because it had quite a few churches where the murals had been preserved. However, due to my adventure earlier in the day I arrived at peak hour, which meant multiple tours and hordes of people. I rented headphones that told me all of the details of the museum and wandered off on my own, trying to avoid the mass.

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This was a seven story building that used to house af group of nons

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When you see murals like this inside of, what from the outside looks like, a rock, you have to be awestruck.

After the museum I was exhausted (mainly due to the horrible nights sleep I had on the bus) and walked back to my hotel for a four hours nap.

When I woke up it was both dinner and World Cup finale time, so I walked into the town center and found a restaurant showing the game. I was quickly joined by a Turkish man, that worked as a tour guide in Cappadocia. We were chatting when three aussies joined us. They had been on a tour with my new guide friend earlier in the day, and coincidentally we had been on the same night bus. We had a fun few hours together, but when the game was over I was more than ready to return to my bed. My new friend offered to take me to see the sunset in his favorite valley and stop by his local deli to try a traditional turkish sandwich, but I didn’t feel completely safe doing so and really just wanted my bed.

When I made it to the hotel the view was looking a bit too good to go straight to bed, so I headed for the roof top terrace and enjoyed the sunset.

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Day 2
The second day was the most eventful out of my time in Cappadocia. My alarm was set for 3:47 am as it was the big hot air balloon day. Since this was such a big deal for me and I have way too many pictures from the trip, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blogpost just for the balloon.

When I came back from the balloon trip I grabbed breakfast and went straight for a nap. img_4132

After waking up from my nap it was lunch time (food-nap-food – What a pattern huh?). I went to the local pide place (the turkish version of pizza) and had a delicious eggplant and cheese pide.

I had decided to hike Rose Valley, which was quite a far walk away from where I was staying. On the way there I strayed from the main road a few times and discovered more awesome caves all on my own. img_3720img_3724img_3737

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Spot the self timer queen

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One of my stops away from the main road was when I decided to walk towars this church (that I’ve forgotten the name of..). When I got there I pad a tiny entrance fee and was given a flash light from an incredibly nice turkish man. I was sent in to the church all on my own to explore.

This building turned out to be really cool cause there were multiple rooms to walk through, connected by stairs and little walkways. My journey through the church ended when clausthrophobia hit me as I had walk a few seconds crouched down through a tiny alley without any light appearing. That was a bit too much for me to handle, so I turned around and continued my walk towards Rose Valley.

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When I got to the place on the road where I had to make a left turn to head for Rose Valley I was already pretty exhausted. I had a cooking class to attend later in the day, so I had a time frame I had to keep my hike within.

I started walking towards the ally and could see from above how beautiful it was going to be. The closer I got though, the more intricate the walkway became. Those who know me knows that my sense of direction is incredibally bad, so walking through the path heading there I was starting to get a bit worried. Walking further, my worries turned into feeling a bit scared and uneasy, and I could feel in my stomach that this hike maybe wasn’t the best idea. Baring in mind that Lonely Planet advised solo female travellers not to hike alone through the vallyes, and the fact that I hadn’t seen another person for about half an hour. I considered walking back for a bit, but ended up going for the hike anyways. Because adventure you know.

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These are the rock formations that Rose Valley are know for, but once you make it to the ground an incredible landscape of many different rock formations awaits.

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Look at this house!! It’s a full on mansion. The small square holes were made for pigeons to stay in. Why the pigeons needed a house I never really figured out.

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And then all of the sudden it looked like this

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And then like this

After walking for a bit I ended up meeting a couple, which settled my nerves a bit. At least I wasnt the only person in the valley. I also met a group of three young russians, one of their reactions being “are you walking alone!? Isn’t that scary??” … But at this point it wasn’t scary at all. I was just enjoying the incredible scenery surrounding me. Sadly I had to walk pretty fast through the vally to make sure that I would get back in time, but it all ended up working out.

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Towards the end of the hike this little turkish family had a small “cafe.” I bought more water (I had run out, which is never good when hiking) and couldn’t help myself when they had fresh squeezed orange juice. The oranges were surrounded by wasps and I’m pretty sure that a fly was squeezed into my juice, but at this point I really didn’t care.

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This gianormus house marked the end of the house. Today I regret not going in there, but I was in a rush to get back to town and still had about 3,5 km to walk. Next time!!!

After walking a big further a man passed me on his moped. He ended up turning around and came back for me. “Göreme?” he asked. Yes was the answer. Up until this point I had turned down rides from all of the men that had approached me, but I was SO exhausted and really too tired to care about what might happen. Afterall I could always just jump off of the moped, right?

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My knight in shining armour

While driving he asked me what I was doing the next few days, and I said that the only thing I had planned was to go on an ATV sunset drive. As it turned out he ran one of those tours and got me a reservation with a “special price for you.”

With the ride I had enough time to jump in the pool (oh myyyy that felt good) before showering, and then it was time for my cooking class.

The cooking class was something I had read about in Lonely Planet, where it is praised as one of the top five eating experiences in all of Turkey. I think I can agree with that.

The class takes place in the house of a turkish family, where they life husband (Tolga), wife, two kids and the parents of the husband.
Tolga picked me up from my hotel, and as soon I got in his car I could tell that this experience was going to be special. For the entire half hour we talked, and Tolga told me all kinds of details and stories about each town we would pass through.

When we got to the house I got to meet the lovely grandma (she was the main instructor in the cooking class, but as her english wasn’t the best, Tolga was helping too), the wife and the two kids. They were so warm and welcoming, and I was sat down in the couch with tea and cookies while the grandma and son entertained me. There was a language barrier but we managed to get by and still have conversation, the son helping out with his bit of english.

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It was me and a sweet Australian couple that did the cooking class together. They were on my hot air balloon in the morning too, such a fun coincidence.

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Grandma rocking away with her incredible cooking skills

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SO MUCH FOOD

Now, I won’t get into too much detail about the night or the conversations we had, but it was a very special experience that I will never forget. Getting to be a part of a family like that and seeing the local life upclose was amazing, and even though they have cooking classes almost every night they made me feel as though this night wasn’t just one among all of the others.

When I left I promised the grandma that I would return for my honeymoon (she was really excited about the idea of me finding a husband) and the sweet, sweet Tolga told me “you’re not alone, not single. You’re family now” and made sure that I knew that if I ever needed anything while in Turkey, I should just let him know.

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My new turkish family pictured with me wearing the handmade scarf that the grandma gave me as a gift

Day 3
On day three I felt the effects from my incredible day two. I had had three huge experiences packed in to one day, and I was left exhausted. I managed to sleep until 11:30 am (pretty good for a dorm room), and stayed in bed until 1 pm before I dragged myself up the many stairs to the pool. I stayed by the pool, enjoying my book and the feeling of the sun on my skin until the late afternoon when I had gathered enough energy to go for a hike.

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On the way to Rose Valley and the Göreme Open Air Museum I had passed a valley on the side of the road that I really wanted to visit. It was called Honey Valley, but I have later given in the name Penis Valley. You can see for yourself in the pictures.

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I obviously had to have a timer picture with one of the penises.

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After my hike I went straight to dinner at the Top Deck Cave Restaurant; a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. The mixed meze plate (gets me every time) was amazing, so I was a happy girl.

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Last activity of this very quiet day was watching the sunset from a place in Göreme called Sunset Point. I walked through the town and uphill and was very pleasently surprised with the spot. You had a 360 degree view of Göremes surroundings and everywhere you looked it was nothing short of beautiful.

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I LOVE this picture

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And this one.. Look at the moon!!

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Day 4
On day four it was time to watch the hot air ballons from the ground, and so I set my alarm way too early again to wake up and walk to Sunset Point. As the pictures show it was well worth the pain of waking up. I sat there in awe until I was the last person left and every single one of the ballons had returned to the ground.

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I had my usual breakfast at my hotel and went straight back to bed for a long nap. At arond 1 pm I managed to get out of bed and drag my body to the pool. I relaxed and red my book for a few hours before heading for an early dinner. Still feeling a bit sick I wasn’t up for another big hike, so I saved all of my energi for my last Cappadocia activity; the ATV sunset tour.

I arrived at my new friends tour hub and went straight on a shuttle bus. The bus took me and a bunch of other people to the ATV parking spot where I was given a mask and helmet. I was starting to be a bit nervous, thinking back to the last time I had rented a vehicle. In Sri Lanka I had rented a moped and after having it for 5 minutes I had already crashed it into a house…. So…. High off of reading the Power of Now I decided that right in this moment there was nothing to be scared of, and so I got on the ATV.

Luckily it was quite easy, and after a few minutes I was speeding ahead. Now, the tour was a bit so and so. Riding the ATV was SO fun and it’s definitely a really good way to see the landscape and head to multiple valleys quickly, but the next time I’ll rent one and head off on my own. Riding just isn’t as fun when you’re a part of a snake of 15 ATV’s… Still worth it though, and now I know that I am more than capable of riding one.

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I felt pretty badass sitting here

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My new friend that gave me the ride back from my hike

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So. Much. Dust. I usully have quite dark hair on my arms, but not this evening.

I had initially made plans to meet up and have a cup of tea with my new turkish friend from the cooking class, but after the ATV tour I was completely out of energy, so I ended up cancelling. I’ll have to see him the next time I go to Cappadocia instead.

When I returned to the hotel I jumped in the pool, and after getting out two german men staying in my dorm room invited me to have a beer with them, and so I spent my last night talking, laughing and sharing stories with them. I’m now more convinced than ever before that I need to go to October fest i Münich.

Day 5
On the last day all I did was wake up, grab my bag, head into an airport shuttle and stare out the window until I reached the airport. I was flying to Izmir and heading to a small local coastal town called Gülbahçe where a week of kitesurfing was awaiting.

Going to Cappadocia should be on everyones bucket list. Just saying.

// Annika

Hiking Lille Malene

Adventures, Travels

On our Sunday off of work we went for a hike on Lille Malene. Meaning “Small Malene” in danish, Malene being a girls name.

This was without a doubt the most spectacular hike I have been on, so much that even Hawaii can go home. It was also the steepest hike I’ve done. There were times I looked up the mountain and had to ask my co-worker if he was sure this was hikeable. And to think there is a Store Malene (Big Malene) too…. I’ll save that one for my next visit to Nuuk!

Throughout the hike I was continuously debating with myself whether this was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or not, and I think it just might be. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

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When walking up the mountain you kept having to turn around to get every aspect of the incredible view that kept getting better with every step you took

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I almost sacrificed my life for this picture. Stepping 2 meters up on that rock meant EXTREME wind that I was not prepared for. Whoopsies. Great picture though

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Gotta stay hydrated

Yup, I will just see you up there

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After climbing the steepest part of the mountain we took a well deserved break in the sun


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This lake is located on Lille Malene, and is where Nuuk gets their drinking water from. Pretty cool

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IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL

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Made it to the very top!

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I tried to pull of a headstand at the very top of the mountain, but as you can see it didn’t quite work

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Feels about reaching the top

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One more attempt

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Aaaaand there we go

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As we headed down the other side of the mountain the sun started to set which gave us the most beautiful light

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In the winter this mountain is where you go skiing in Nuuk. Crazy to think with all of the rocks we passed by. We walked back down the mountain along the ski lift

Pretty amazing right?

// Annika

Fjord sailing in Greenland

Adventures, Travels

On our Saturday in Nuuk, the major event was that our co-worker living in Greenland got to take us out on the company boat.

My-oh-my was that an experience. Seeing icebergs, the mountains up close from the ocean and sitting out the front of the boat while going full speed ahead are all moments I will never forget.

Just see how beautiful it was.

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The harbour of Nuuk

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Taking pictures of the photographer

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Look at that tiny boat!!! Really gives you a perspective of how grand it all was

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Feels like flying, I tell you

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We brought coffee

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Probably one of the best cups of coffees I’ve had. More so because of the surroundings than the actual coffee

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I’ve sailed a boat in Greenland – Wuhuu

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I feel so lucky that I got to experience all of this.

//Annika

A magical Mirissa night

Adventures, Travels

I had the BEST night in Mirissa on Saturday. It was my last night at the Sunshinestories retreat, so me and the staff went out for a big dinner and lots of drinks. Mirissa is a beach that I’ve had as the background on my phone for the last four months, impatiently waiting to explore it in real life. It did not disappoint.


Sweet Tosca had brought her GoPro, which her, Hanna and I made good use of while exploring Mirissa Bay, trying to contain our excitement for just how beautiful the sunset was that night. 

 It was the kind of night that was almost too good to be true. We couldn’t stop repeating how in love with life we were, as we were dancing our asses off to a way to repetitive techno beat on the sand of a beautiful beach in Sri Lanka underneath the swaying palm trees. We had good food, great drinks, new friends and nice strangers, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better fireworks went off and blended into the sky along with the light show from the beach club that was making its way across the ocean to the rhythm of the music. The cherry on top was skinny dipping in the Indian Ocean before stumbling into a tuk tuk to make our way back to the villa. 


I’ve already made plans to meet them there next Saturday. And the next. And the next. 

// Annika 

One big adventure coming up

Adventures, Personal

So! It is July 21st. This is a special day due to two things: 1. It’s exactly six years since I moved to the United States (in three days it is exactly two years since I moved back to Denmark, man time flies) and 2. I’m going to Sri Lanka today!!!!


When the year first started out and I was planning my upcoming trips I thought that a Costa Rica / Nicaragua trip was in the cards for me this summer. Somehow that turned into Sri Lanka instead, and now I’m at the airport, patiently waiting to board my plane.

I have quite the “Annika it is time to move even further out of your comfort zone” trip planned. Five weeks of my own company is what awaits me once my plane takes off. Five weeks exploring a country I have never before been to, in a part of the world I have very little experience with. And you know what? I am SO excited. And a little bit nervous. But as my friend said; “You’re supposed to be nervous. If you weren’t nervous it’s no fun.”

Anyways, it is not like I’m going to be backpacking alone through the entire country for those five weeks, even though that sounds pretty incredible also..
The first two days of my trip I am completely on my own, but that’s about it. I’ll be spending those days in Galle, where I’ve already booked a hostel.
The next week I am staying at a surf and yoga retreat called Sunshinestories, located in Ahangama. They brand themselves on having unlimited fresh coconuts, so I am not complaining. I found Sunshinestories through Instagram about a year ago, and ever since laying eyes on their admirable way of life I have dreamt about testing it out.
For the remaining four weeks I am going to be volunteering at a newly opened hostel in Weligama called Hangtime Hostel. The twist on this is that I am not quite sure what I am going to be doing, but I get free accommodation, yoga and surf board rental in return, so I am a happy camper.

So yeah, the biggest adventure I’ve ever been on is still undoubtedly the one that started in this exact same airport six years ago, but this is the second biggest adventure and I could not be more excited to see what experiences, lessons and friendships it brings me.

// Annika

 

Blown away by Cinque Terre (Day 3)

Adventures, Travels

Day three was all about day tripping. Before my arrival in the land of life changing food I had googled my way to Cinque Terre, so when Paige told me she had considered suggesting just this destination as the origin of our day trip, it was a done deal.

My favorite picture of the day, partly due to Paige’s great editing skills. Me photographing Manarola.

Cinque Terre is a part of the Italian Riviere, and is made up of five little fishermen villages; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosse. All five towns have a unique charicterisic to it, which is part of what makes this place so mindblowingly beautiful.
The five villages together make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is something I had actualy never heard of until I researched Cinque Terre. Of course now I am intrigued and would like to see all 1052. Wish me luck…

Cinque Terre isn’t that close to Florence, so with a three hour train trip and three different trains ahead of us, we had decided to leave super early.
I journeyed to Paige’s apartment before the sun had risen, which gave me a beautiful good morning view of the river parting Florence into two.

After our trainride through the Italian landscape, we got into Riomaggiore as the first town. Without taking a single picture of this beautiful little village we quickly started our hike towards Manarola. We had our water bottles and were ready to go! Our initial plan was just to hike to Manarola and spend the whole day there, but that quickly changed as I felt it would be dumb to not see all of the towns now that we were finally here.

All along the hike they had these creative signs – I loved it

 

This is me wearing a skirt and A LEATHER JACKET for a hike. Who am I!? I was hating on myself for the entire hike due to my poor choice of clothing

 

 

What we hadn’t realized was how much of a workout this hike was actually going to be. Apparently Riomaggiore and Manarola are very close, and there is an easy walkway carved out in rock through the mountain that Paige and I had decided to walk above.
The route we did is called The Beccara trail (#531), and for its beautiful views it was worth every step up the mountain and every step down the mountain on the other side again.

The beeeeeautiful streets of Manarola

This rock might have been the biggest tourist attraction I experienced while in Italy. Count the iphones and selfie sticks in the picture please – It’s hilarious

Just WOW! When you make it in to Manarola you have no idea of what gorgeousness you’re standing in the middle of. This is when you have to continue your hike up the side of the other mountain to reach the view above. WOW I tell you. We of course had a little bit of Gelato before heading up here.

Minutes after eating our gelato we found this place on the side of the mountain and decided that it was lunch time. This place definitely reaches top 5 of best view of the places I have eaten.

Around this time we made a deal to eat something in every village. Which turned out to be such a great decission.
It is possible to hike through all five villages, but due to laziness and awful choice of clothing we quickly realized that hiking between two villages was more than enough.

We found the Manarola train station, bought a ticket and boarded the train. A few minutes later we reached what might have been the train station in the world with the best location.

To the horror of our tired bodies we realized that even though we had arrived at the Corniglia train station, the only way of actually getting to Corniglia was by conquering a 200+ step stair. I took a deep breath, looked at the couple next to me each carrying a suitcase and felt very blessed that I despise all only had to carry myself up there.

The stair was decorated with beautiful cactuses all along the way which made my inner plant hoarder squeak from happiness. Plant pictures galore

Of course reaching the top turned out to be well worth every step. We celebrated with more gelato (when in Italy….) as we enjoyed the stunning view.

Corniglia seen from next mountain

We didn’t spend much time in Corniglia before we once again made our way towards the train. Next stop was Vernazza.
After another train ride that didn’t take much more than three minutes we arrived, and to our surprise Vernazza turned out to be even more gorgeous than the other three villages. Vernazza has a Little bay, which gives it a very different character from its sisters. True to our deal we quickly found a restaurant that could serve us cava and pizza.

After taking endless Picture in Vernazza we were ready for to see the last village the UNESCO World Heritage site had to offer; Monterosse.

Once againg completely different from the other villages, Monterosse turned out to be a beach town. We found a touristy bar that served frozen drinks in very large plastic containers, and both decided on a Piña Colada.
We sat on the cute rocky beach and enjoyed our well deserved frozen Little wonders while listening to the calming sound of the baby waves hitting the shore. We quickly both fell a sleep, and considering the fact that I woke up with drool on my arm, I’ll say it was a pretty good nap.


We had made dinner reservations in the second town, Monarola, so we caught the train back to finish off our day of eating.
As we arrived the sun was starting to set which allowed us to get a beuatiful sight of both the village and the ocean.

When making reservations for dinner I told the waitress my name three time. Annika, it’s A.n.n.i.k.a. I guess Enica is pretty close

I enjoyed another glass of wine along with lasagna and a personal favorite of mine; caprese salad. After dinner we considered getting gelato a third time, but sadly we didn’t end up going for it.
We strolled back to the other side of the mountain to catch a last glimpse of the beauty of the place before we made our wack back to the station to journey on our three our trip back home to Florence.

img_7454To finish this post off all I really have to say is GO, GO, GO! This is definitely a place that should be on everyones travel bucket list. Even after having just been, it’s back on mine, simply because I’d like to have more time to explore.

My ideal Cinque Terre trip would be spending one night in each village and actually doing the hike between all five of them. All of the villages are so small that you could see everything they have to offer in just one day, so this would be an ideal way to experience Cinque Terre to the fullest. The cherry on top would be taking a boat ride along the coast also. I can only imagine how beautiful all five town must be when seen from the ocean..

// Annika

 

Hit me with your Best Shot

Adventures, Travels

“Hit me with your best shot, why don’t you hit me with your best shooooot” I was belting out as we drove towards the parking lot down a dusty road. The destination was Best Shot Range and the daily adventure was our new family christmas tradition, shooting.

Since I’m currently spending my christmas break with my family in Texas we’ve been up to a few different things. The usual family activity would be something like long walks on the beach, hiking or maybe even shopping, but since my parents are now permanently living in Houston, Texas, we decided to mix things up a bit.

When we first talked about shooting at christmas I thought it sounded like an awful and morbid idea, but the more I thought of it the thought of holding a gun in my hand during the celebration of love and family grew on me. I’m always up for trying new things, and this was so abnormal compared to our usual traditions that it somehow fit right in, so off we went.

The “view” seen from the waiting room at the shooting range. I stood here and crept myself out as I was waiting for it to be our turn

When we arrived to the range I could tell that I wasn’t completely comfortable with the situation as my body felt a bit uneasy. People ran in and out of the place carrying more guns and riffles than I have seen before. A family walked out of there carrying 10 different guns. Now this sort of scene might be normal in Texas, but it was all very new to me.

I think everyone in my family felt a bit misplaced in there as my dad explained to the man helping us out that we were all completely new to this. Luckily the staff at the range were incredibly nice and helpful, even during one of their busiest times on a saturday afternoon.

Split in to two groups we got lane two and three, 2 Barrett guns, 4 targets, 100 bullets, 4 pair of glasses and 4 set of ear muffs. We put on our safety gear, walked through two doors and boom, we had made it in to Texas heaven.

The gun my dad and I shot with. So incredibly weird to be holding a gun

My first thought was “Oh it smells like fireworks” then a parade of shots were fired and I really just wanted to get the hell out of there. I felt extremely uncomfortable and had to focus on not screaming every time a shot was fired.

My dad and sister shot the first round, and even after they had finished their first shots I still didn’t feel too good about the situation.
I told my dad that I really didn’t feel comfortable shooting, but knowing that I would have huge regrets if I didn’t I took the gun into my hands and got in position. “Are you sure it doesn’t hurt?” “How does it feel after you pull the trigger?”

After my dad had answered my million of questions I eventually ended up pulling the trigger. My first shot ever was around two cm from the X in the very middle of my target.

The thought of how many shots are fired in Texas every damn day is absolutely CRAZY

Very focused. The first shot I took hit right in the middle. My dad and I looked at each other both very impressed with my newly acquired skills as a shooter. For a second there we might have even reconsidered my future as an auditor, since I was obviously meant to have a gun in my hand. But as I shot the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time it was pretty obvious that it was just an impressing case of beginners luck – too damn bad

Best father and daughter selfie yet – The protection glasses and ear muffs did wonders to the shape of our faces

Overall it was an absolutely awesome experience. It was definitely way out of my comfort zone, but I love crossing my boundaries.
Definitely an experience everyone needs to have if they ever stop by Texas or any other southern state in the U.S. Or anywhere else really.

The best part is that I now have an awesome, personal, pink art piece (my target) to hang in my living room.

// Annika

“SHE GOT IT”

Adventures
7

Vale Figueiras – the most beautiful beach I have ever seen as well as the place where I caught my first legit wave.

“Anakin, I’m taking you out back. Come with me,” Griff said. Anakin is my nickname at my most beloved Star Wars inspired surf camp in Portugal and Griff is one of the instructors working there. Our location of the day was Vale Figures, my favorite beach. 

Now, it’s not that I had never been out back before. This being my second time staying with the surf camp, I was mainly out back (beyond the impact zone that is) at this point. However, today was different – the waves were huge. And now I don’t mean huge like Laird Hamilton huge, but for my beginner self they were in fact HUGE.
Earlier in the day I had attempted getting out back myself, but after getting smashed time after time I eventually gave up and decided to stay in the white water and work on perfecting my pop-up instead. 

With Griff persuading me into the deeper water I decided to go. Through the white water, up on the board and paddle, paddle, paddle. All of a sudden we were out back, and I hadn’t been smashed once. I guess those 15 years of experience does make a difference.
Sitting out back on this particular day have to be one of my most treasured memories. Vale Figuerias is located in a national park. The cliffs here are absolutely stunning and the mist from the ocean on this particular day made it look like a fairytale scene from a National Geographic movie. If you look the beach up on Wikipedia the words “outstanding natural beauty” are used to describe the place, so I will leave it at that. Seeing it from the water while sitting on my surf board just took it all to the next level. The entire time I was focusing on taking mental pictures so I would never forget just how beautiful it was.

Griff had caught a wave in to the shore so I was just sorta hanging around out back. Once in a while a wave that I would personally classify as a tsunami would roll in, so I’d paddle as hard as I could to make sure that I would get over it instead of being squished under it. It worked every time and a new favorite feeling of mine became just making it over a massive wave before it breaking. Fear filled my body by the thought of potentially getting caught in the impact zone under the wings of the massive wave coming at me, so every muscle in my body would give its all to paddle and get over the wave. Actually getting over a creature like that is the feeling of extreme relief, plus it’s a fun ride sliding down the back of it too.

The line-up out back on this particular day consisted of 5-8 men and inexperienced little me in my neon orange wetsuit. Except I really wasn’t in the line-up, I was much further out. With each massive wave that came in I paddled out further so the chance of getting smashed decreased. I’m pretty sure every man out there was asking themselves what the heck a newbie like me was doing out there.
“Are you heading back to America?” Griff asked jokingly when he eventually came back out. “Get back in here, you’re not going to catch any waves out there” he said. So I paddled back. Sitting next to Griff on my board he gave me a few tips on reading the waves, and we decided that my best bet would be going for one of the smaller ones. “Smaller” on this particular day still meant a bigger wave than I had ever ridden, so let’s maybe call it medium sized instead. 

So a medium sized wave started to roll in towards us. “This is it Anakin, get in position, I’m gonna push you.” Griff got off of his own board and came to me. I laid on my stomach and looked over my left shoulder where I saw this beautiful wave take shape as it was heading straight toward me. I started power paddling for the life of me and with the help of the push from Griff I caught the wave. There was no time for thinking “1, 2, 3” as I did my pop-up while sliding down the face of the wave, but luckily my muscles had the movement memorized so I somehow managed to get up on my board.
As I got up I heard the guys cheering while one of them uttered a surprised “SHE GOT IT,” “HELL YEAH I GOT IT” is all I remember thinking. I looked behind me and saw the most perfect wake breaking. In front of me it was all green. For the first time I was riding along a legitimate green wave, and not just going straight towards the shore. As the wave started breaking from both sides I managed to do a turn to move forward and then another turn to go back along the side of the wave. I road that thing all the way in to the beach before I ripped off my leash and started running towards the local surf dog.  

“COOKIE DID YOU SEE THAT?? DID YOU SEE THAT COOKIE?” I screamed as I was intensely petting the confused puppy that definitely had not just seen my badass wave.
After what felt like minutes, but realistically had probably been 30 seconds, of intense focus, I was finally able to react to what had just happened. The most intense feelings of joy, accomplishment and just plain excitement was floating out my body like I had just taken my first steps, and the only living creature on the beach to share it with was a dog, so there I was jumping up and down in my bright wetsuit like a complete fool.
The best way I can explain the feeling I had is compressing a month of having just fallen in love in to a few minutes. I was on a very intense cloud nine and in that second I understood the extreme addiction that many people develop to surfing.  

I will never forget that wave. I got it.  

// Annika