Category Archives: Travel

Bag full of baking

I love baking. At home I have books full of recipe’s waiting for me to try them. Unfortunately I am travelling now and those will have to wait. Yet even when I’m travelling the kitchen lures me in. There are free recipe’s in the supermarket magazines and I often see an attractive recipe on a blog. Or you see something of that other culture that you can’t wait to try.

So when I knew I was going to stay in one place for a while I hit the shops. I came home with a baking tin, some tools, measuring cups and mixing bowls. For three months I made something every week. After that I couldn’t part with my things since I was just moving to another place where I would stay for a few weeks and come back once again. So my skibag housed some baking utensils between my boots and warm layers.

Another thing I cannot resist is buying special cookie cutters abroad. I know fully well that I’ll have to carry them around the world with me, even though I have no clue for how long. I just have to have them. I cannot resist it. Instead of tacky souvenirs I am coming home with baking stuff for my collection. I guess I cannot live without it…

This one’s inspired by the daily prompt: Ingredients

Wait, I’ll hop over

Travel and living abroad is fun, but being away from  your family and friends can at times be sad. You read about an upcoming event on Facebook, write a birthday card or hear about their daily events on Skype. Every time you realise that you are not there for things. It also work the other way around. I see things, experience things, hear things, smell things that I’d like to share. I can share photos, but it just isn’t the same.

If only there was a machine like a teleporter. I’d like to be able to get a piece of birthday cake via Skype. Can I put that on the list of Skype improvements? This would be the first step. Later I’d like to add the function of making a live appearance yourself. I don’t care if I would need a portkey or floo powder like in Harry Potter, as long as it’s invented. Sooner rather than later. Imagine the possibilities!

My inspiration comes from skyping and the daily prompt: World’s best widget!

Dramas of the road

A popular way of travelling the cheap way is finding some buddies to hit the roads. Everywhere you find websites dedicated to finding rides and in many hostels you’ll find ads for ride shares. From the big cities you often have a choice and thus you can choose, relatively, wisely. But what if you’re in a location where there isn’t much choice?

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I’d been in Broome, Australia, for almost a week and was dying to get out. I had seen enough of the beach but it seemed like my fellow backpacker bums where all going in the opposite direction. Finally an ad appeared on Australia’s Gumtree and I replied within minutes. A positive answer: let’s meet. So the next day I meet another international traveller. The girl had her own campervan and wanted to leave asap.

The next day I happily started my adventure all the way down to Perth. Slowly though I started to find out that not all campers are happy campers. The only agreement made up front was to share petrol and food costs by making a joint wallet. With both of us on a budget I wasn’t surprised when on day one I was asked to make a contribution for the food that was still left in the van. Problem one however was that we couldn’t agree on the price of it. Or rather, my travel companion didn’t say a price. I was to pay the first few groceries and after a few days I was given the ok.

Another week had passed and it became clear that our personalities couldn’t be more different. I am excited to get going, active in setting up and packing our camp. I love to make plans and read about what options we’ve got and what we can do. As in normal life I like to have a plan for the day and know in which area I’ll be sleeping that night. My buddy was of the opposite; relaxing in the morning, taking the time for a smoke, sitting in the sun instead of going for a hike. While driving she was happily checking her facebook and catching up with friends. She also didn’t want to discuss plans and I always felt like an annoyance asking where we were going that they or what she wished to do.

I started feeling like a kid who did everything wrong. Also, evil was building up inside me. I felt like there was a bomb of annoyance in my belly which could burst at any time. I was nowhere near my enthusiastic, fun self. I was constantly on edge. Luckily we drove the same route as another couple whom I got along with really well. Travelling with four gave us both a bit of freedom and relief.

Just over a week into our journey I was ambushed. At the cash register I was told I had to pay for the supermarket bill. I exploded and surely didn’t pay a thing. We took a girl into the van for a few days in a national park but from the start this added frustration to my buddy. When we said goodbye to her, my buddy started asking her for money as well. In my opinion you make these agreements upfront and you don’t confront someone with it when everything is already done.

We had reached our limit. We couldn’t be more agitated and frustrated with each other. We talked and both admitted not to be happy. We were just too different. Added to that I didn’t agree with the girls methods. I told here to drop me off at a hostel the next day. I couldn’t enjoy this anymore and the decision came as an instant relief. I could breath again. After all this shit about money the hypocrite had no intentions of paying me for the things I left her with; food, half a tank of petrol. I didn’t ask. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get to my hostel and continue my trip pleasantly.

Lessons learned:

– Listen to your gut feeling
– Spend time looking for a good match, especially if you travel together for weeks on end
– Make some money agreements that are clear for both parties
– Make sure your travel buddy is into the same things; national parks, hiking, swimming, relaxing on the beach etc.
– See that you have the same expectations. If one person is on a budget and the other would like to go out for dinner and party hard, it isn’t a match made in heaven.

The most important lesson, in which I got a lot of practise, was enjoying your surroundings. I didn’t get along with my travel companion, but I was in some gorgeous places. Sometimes you just have to stop, breath and take in the beauty. Eventually, that is what we both came for, in pleasant company or not.

The Gibb, you’re never alone

The start of the Gibb
The start of the Gibb

The Gibb River road, heart of the Kimberley in Australia, used to be a route to get cattle to the ports of Wyndham and Derby. Now it is an adventurous road that leads tourists into the wilderness. You can attempt to do it in your own car, 4×4 required, or you can choose one of the many tour operators, from cruises to small group road tours. As I don’t own a car and couldn’t find travel mates that were up for the challenge, I decided on a tour. Kimberley adventure tours offers rugged tours with lots of camping and hiking. So I went back to basics.

Driving through empty rivers
Driving through empty rivers

After seeing the beauty of Edith Falls in Nitmiluk, camping on an island on the magnificent Lake Argyle and seeing Purnululu national park, we entered the Gibb. It started with an easy sealed road until the turnoff to El Questro. El Questro offered a luxurious camp ground to return to after your walks. I mean, the place had showers and grass! El Questro offers many walks, of which we chose two. The first one led us into El Questro gorge, a narrow gorge filled with rocks. The walk into the gorge is a challenging one as you have to quickly acquire some climbing skills and wade through water. To add a bit of excitement our group started a little late and ended up going back as night fell. The two torches we had paved the path for our return.

The next day we were treated with the Zebedee hot springs. It is a little paradise hidden between the trees, all natural, no pavement or tiles. Considering it was a bit hot that day we didn’t stay long and made our way to Emma gorge, apparently the place of many a heart attack. The walk was hot since it was only partly shaded. It wasn’t strenuous, but you had to look where you placed your feet since the path had many rocks on it. At the end waited the real treat, a big swimming hole with waterfall. Unfortunately the way back made us yet again sweaty and hot.

Rock art in the Kimberley
Rock art in the Kimberley

And then the big drive started. The road started changing all the time, red dirt, purple-red, grey, sometimes even sealed for a small distance. Along the way we saw rock art, a swimming hole and got a flat tire. The vistas for the lookouts were stunning. We didn’t see very many other cars, but were always greeted by cows, as our driver and guide Rick drove honking to get them off the road. There had been many bushfires during the dry and the landscape looked charred and black, but the new leaves and branches had already started growing.

An adventure awaited us in Manning Gorge. Everything was prepared for the wet, so instead of taking a little boat across the water to start our walk, we had to wade through it. It was hot enough anyway. The walk led us to a waterfall of which we only saw the grey it had left behind on the rocks. The water had totally dried up. Luckily there was still enough river to go through. The next part of our adventure was a swim and light canyoning, occasionally stopping for rock art and muesli bars. It was a team sport as not everyone was a strong swimmer. In the last part there was the option to walk instead of swim. One of the guys gave it a try. He didn’t make it very far. He pissed off a bull, which came running at us. I’ve never jumped into the water that quickly!

A small nest of green tree ants
A small nest of green tree ants

At our bush camp for the night we heard the kookaburra’s call, like a monkey in the night. From our camp we could walk to the beautiful Adcock gorge, where we rested in the shade and enjoyed looking at the wildlife. Well, some of it… The Kimberley is home to the nastiest ant I’ve ever encountered; the green tree ant. They live in certain trees and if you accidentally come too close to their nests they jump on you like you’re a delicacy they’d love to bite.

View over Bell gorge
View over Bell gorge

Bell gorge was also a treat to see. Of course we didn’t just see the gorge but extended the hike off the normal tracks and deeper into the gorge where we had a waterhole all to ourselves. Rain and thunder spoilt the fun, but walking in that was preferable to the heat we had on our way in. It was a difficult hike with some climbing, but in the end it was totally worth it. There was one more camp in the Kimberley. The wind was raging and kept me awake for a while. In the morning it had died down. From my swag I saw the sunrise. 5 o’clock, time to get up.

Freshies
Freshies

At the very end of the Gibb River road two more surprises awaited us. In Windjana gorge we could see dozens of freshwater crocodiles. The freshies were just chilling in the river while we were walking on the sand, only meters away. They’ll generally not harm you, unless you ask for it. Fruitbats were flying all around the red walls of the gorge from one tree to another. Part of the same area was Tunnel Creek, a cave you could walk through if you were prepared to get wet feet. This time we carried plenty of torches and wandered through the area where over a hundred years ago a freedom fighter hid himself for 4 years. There were traces of crocodiles, yet we didn’t see any. O well, who’s worrying about the crocs where there are bulls around?

It was a trip never to be forgotten. Sleeping underneath the stars, being outdoors, cooking  on the campfire and good people all around. I’d go back anytime.

Home is where you write your blog

Today’s daily prompt poses an interesting question:

What’s the strangest place from which you’ve posted to your blog? When was the last time you were out and about, and suddenly thought, “I need to write about this!”?

The whole reason I started writing blog posts started years ago, with my trip to South Africa. I would be away for half a year, closely followed by another half-year in Finland. Since I like writing and in order to keep my family up to speed on what was happening in my life I created a blog. For my other blog, travel writing is till the main purpose. For that reason, the strangest location in which I’ve written a post might just be my home!

My strangest post is definitely the one I wrote at the airport. I’d just landed in Amsterdam and only one of my friends even knew I’d been flying in the last 48 hours. Instead of rushing to the luggage belts I couldn’t wait to get out my laptop and connect to the internet. I had to let people know I was home. I still had two hours to go until I would be at my parents’ house. Two hours in which I knew that if they would look into their email account, they would know.

They didn’t. My coming home was a total surprise. Other people did find out via my blog and I got some confused emails and text messages from my friends. There is no better way to come home!

This post is inspired by the daily prompt: Blogger in a strange land

Upside down under

winterYou grow up knowing that seasons change. The year starts in winter when it’s cold, snowing, raining, and the wind doesn’t leave you alone. But slowly things start changing. It warms up, the birds start whisteling their tunes and mother nature shows her best colours. Later on, in July, everyone goes outside, the smell of barbecue is in the air. Summer has arrived. By the time our school holidays are over the most beautiful colours appear in the landscape; red, yellow, orange. And then by the time Christmas comes, we bring out the hot chocolate, because once again it is cold. Continue reading Upside down under

Travel freak out

So many plans. So many wishes. So many questions. So many places. Being a traveller isn’t easy. There is just too much to do! I am planning my next trip, which starts in two days actually. The first part is done. I am flying to Darwin, where I will stay for three nights until my organised tour starts. 6AM sharp I will be waiting for the group to embark on an adventure. Nine days of getting up at stupid o’clock, sleeping under the stars, hiking and bumping and shaking over the 4WD tracks of the rugged Kimberley. But then I arrive in Broome and the real question starts: how far can my money get me?

The budget is, just that: a tiny budget. As I don’t have a car I rely on finding others to travel with. Hopefully with a van or some camping equipment. Scrap those budgets found on the internet. Even in Australia you can live on a budget. Yes, a meal in a restaurant sets you back 20 dollars, but what about cooking? So I set my daily food budget on a generous 18 dollars a day. But really; I hope I don’t spend it.

From Broome I want to make my way to Perth to explore the city, and then eventually make my way back to Adelaide, where my boyfriend will be waiting for me. I plan on doing this in five weeks, but will I find people to travel with? Will they have the same plans and interests as I have? The ‘wills’ and ‘what ifs’ have taken over my mind. It’s a mystery and it freaks me out just a little. For a person who has always got things planned and prepared this is a true adventure.

So yes, I have a list. A true wish list this time. It includes all the things I’d like to do and see along these 5000 kilometers. It includes just as many question marks, for I do not know if my trip will take me there. So bring it on! A true Ozzie road trip. Off to adventure I go. Checking one  thing at a time. Best case scenario: thousands of photographs, dozens of new friends and a checklist with crossed-out words. Worst case scenario: thousands of photographs, dozens of new friends and an empty bank account. Well, such is life.

Life on the other side

Today’s daily prompt poses the question

If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’d like to say I’d go somewhere super adventurous, like living with some distant tribe that doesn’t use mobile phones. If something like that even exists these days. But honestly, could I do that?

I don’t think I have the guts to see something too different. Would I eat what they eat? Sleep like they sleep? Dress as they dress? Could I say goodbye to all my comforts? Honestly, I don’t think I could.

But if it isn’t going back to basics, then where would I like to go? I’ve got dozens of travel magazines that inspire me with rich stories and pictures. And yet when asked this question, I don’t have an answer ready.

When I was younger I wanted to do an exchange in America, but I guess now I would go for something a bit less western. Something that might cause a bit of a culture shock. Maybe it would be cool to experience the Arab world. Especially since I don’t know much about it.

I’d like to be part of a family in Jordan. Surprise me! I’m sure I would like it and I’d learn a lot. But the thing I am most sure about is that I’d be happy to live my own life again after that.

A hint of luxury

O the life of the backpacker. Living out of a backpack is about the least glamorous and luxurious thing you can do. Think about it. What would you pack? Tough choice. You  might want to take that nice dress, but is it practical? You really want some choice, but then realise you have to carry everything around with you. It’s all about sacrifices. You either sacrifice on a few luxuries, or on your travel comfort.

Most people pack way too much for their holidays. You always think you need every single item in your closet, but in reality you wear your top three favourite items during your entire trip. Packing becomes something totally different though when you are packing for a year, or maybe even several. Winter and summer. Leisure and business. Fancy and casual. Your Luggage is your life and it becomes a mix and match.

So when packing for a long term thing, think carefully about what you are intending to do and where you think you’ll go. A spaghetti top can work as beach dress, an extra layer in winter or your pyjamas. If you like some variation, take something old, so that you can replace it after a few weeks or months.

Every traveller should have a little luxury though. Something that just makes you happy. This backpacker for example, carries a little bottle of perfume for those moments when I want to feel special. The beautiful scent makes me feel fresh and attractive, even if I am wearing my old jeans. It might be silly and unnecessary, but even a traveller needs that little bit of luxury that makes the dorm room disappear and turns the local snack bar into fine dining.

This post is inspired by the daily prompt: luxurious