Dear loved ones, sometimes I forget to tell you…

It goes without saying that those who have been or are in my shoes, and by that I mean, the well known travelling shoes, they will understand and know perfectly what I am trying to say here.

But this post it’s for those out there that don’t know it. This is for my loved ones at home, for my dearest and closest friends who I grew up with, or I have known for years and years. This is for everyone I will meet in the near and/or distant future.

It is time to come clean. I lied to you. No, that sounds bad. On certain occasions, I just voluntarily forget to tell you some things. Everyone who is far from home can relate to this, everyone has done it and everyone will do it. Whoever argues with me on this one is a liar! (or he/she will never leave home).

So, dear loved ones, sometimes I forget to tell you:

  1. that I had one too many tequila shots last night, so I am spending a whole day in bed with a hangover, rather than do any sightseeing or exciting things.
  2. that although I am an adrenaline junkie, sometimes all I want is to go for a walk in the park rather than a bungee-jump. I will do the exciting stuff as well. But not when you are expecting it.
  3. that I ate or drank something, which clearly didn’t agree with my stomach, and I spent several days being sick.
  4. that I fell in love.
  5. that it didn’t work out and I am now heart-broken, hence the tequila shots last night.
  6. that I met some unbelievable, amazing people who inspire me.
  7. that I met someone who is teaching me so much about life, and helps me see things in a new perspective.
  8. that I met some individuals who became close friends, and I confide in them, and I share my problems and my joys with them. But they will never replace you. My heart is big enough for all of you, for old and new friendships. They are here with me now, and I am with them.
  9. that I had a hard time adapting to a new culture.
  10. that sometimes I blame time difference for not speaking to you, when in reality I just didn’t feel like it. This doesn’t make me a horrible friend, it just makes me human, and I know our friendship is stronger than this.
  11. that sometimes I wish you’d be able to come and see me, and spend time with me. I miss you so much.
  12. finally, sometimes I forget to tell you that I have no idea when I will be home, and that I don’t want to stop this adventure just yet.

There are numerous reasons why travellers do this. But I will only attempt to speak from my own experiences.

I forget to tell you things because I don’t want to disappoint you. You all have an image of how great my life is, and probably for the most part, it actually is, and I love my life and what I am doing, but there are moments in which life sucks, and I don’t want you to know how hard it can get.

I don’t want you to worry too much. I know how much you love me, and you worry about my wellbeing, I don’t want to add any extra stress.

I am also afraid I might lose you. People change, I change. I miss a lot of important events back home, and on the back of my mind I always fear we might drift too far apart.

I don’t want you to think I failed.

I also don’t want you to think I replaced you, because I could never do that. And I want you to know that all your joys are mine too. And that I am here ( thanks to technology and all the social platforms) for you.

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Your left, my right! After 3 weeks in Spain…

I have been living in Vigo, Spain for three weeks now. After the initial cultural shock that I had for the first few hours of my first day here, I am slowly getting us how things work around here; just in time for me to move again. Well..it happens. The first two weeks went very quickly, partly because my friend Maria was still here, and most of the times I was just following her without noticing anything around me. It is not that I didn’t want to notice anything, or I didn’t want to take my time to absorb everything that this little port town has to offer, I just never had the time walking with Maria on the streets. If anyone who reads this, knows my dear Estonian friend, they would understand that when it comes to walking, Maria has 2 speeds: very, very fast and extremely fast; so fast that in the last few days of her being here, I simply refused to keep up with her. I was walking behind her, and in her own words…’we looked like a broken family’. But nonetheless, she was very understanding when I kept asking her the same stupid questions about streets and how to get home. Then, my whole family came to visit, so again, no time for myself or to get used to my new environment, apart from, we were eating out every night so I was clearly exercising my Spanish.

However, this last week I have been by myself, and I am slowly starting to get used to Spain. I am starting to like the very hot sunny days, the little cafes and restaurants, the markets, the atmosphere. I have been working with 6 years old kids, absolutely lovely kids, and thanks to them my broken Spanish is getting better. Although the look on their faces when I speak half in Spanish with a bad accent and then half in English with my English accent, is absolutely priceless, nonetheless they get what I mean, eventually.

There are a few things that have amused me a lot since I got here, and I started interacting with locals, or people who have been here longer than me. Also, there are a few things that I learned from the Spanish, and a few things that Spanish people should learn from the other countries equally. Do not take this list as offensive, it is my personal take on it, and I think it is quite amusing.

1. All you need is enough money to go out drinking, you will automatically have food for free, and good food as well. We all need to love Spanish restaurants because of their free tapas, with any sort of drink you order.

2. Fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh fish. Enough said.

3. Siesta time. If at the beginning it is rather hard to adapt that half way through the day everything around you closes, soon you start enjoying that nice afternoon nap, which allows you to party more in the evening.

4. Crema Orujo. Which is by far my favourite alcoholic drink in the world right now, and if you ever come to Galicia, do not dare leaving without trying it.

5. If you are like me, or my dad, and you like to have cold drinks and also would like to be able to buy them in any shop, do not come to this part of Spain. Good luck finding a supermarket who serves cold beer or water, there’s none. Who on Earth likes to drink their beer at room temperature when there’s 30 degrees Celsius, goes beyond my understanding.

6. Spanish parents (please do not get offended, that is not my intention here), take it down a notch. Your kid will be fine if he is 5 years old and has a scratch or if he is playing in a closed park, in a summer camp without close supervision. It is not the end of the world. Your kids cry way too much, and they are way too overprotected…life is not getting any easier, but I am not a parent, so maybe I should not give any advice.

7. However, one more thing on the advice list, from a non-parent. Stop feeding your kids so much sugar. You have amazing food, amazing fresh season fruits. Having sugary cereals or biscuits for breakfast and then, having the same for a snack, or worse, such as cookies or muffins it is not the way forward. If you give a 6 years old child money to buy his own meal, you know what they are going to buy? 5 euros worth of chewing gum. Yes, you read that right. He is supposed to eat healthier than that, but then again, that is my personal opinion and I am sorry if I offended anyone. Also, it needs to be mentioned that this does not happen in every household in Spain, I am just giving a few examples which shocked me as an outsider.

8. Dear Spanish people, I know it is hot most of the year, but a kettle is a brilliant invention.

9. Also, I kindly suggest to stop starring so much at other people walking down the street.

All in all, my experience here has been amazing. I have two weeks left, and I am sure that by the end of it, I will ever so slightly miss Galicia…and I will clearly miss Crema Orujo.

House shots with hard boiled eggs.
House shots with hard boiled eggs.
Cies Island!
Cies Island!

My dear Maria!

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My dear Maria!

I guess I made it to Spain!!!

For quite a while now, I was itching to leave England, and go travel, or just go somewhere else. A few months back, a decision was made, and my friend Maria convinced me to move to Spain, at least for the summer, if not for longer. Since my mind was long checked out of England, and I really miss the proper sunny summers, with Sun that actually tans you and beaches where you can lay for a whole day without feeling guilty, I accepted the challenge.

3 hours ago, I arrived in Vigo, on the west coast of Spain. This is going to be my home, for at least the next 5 weeks where I will be working at a summer camp (one needs to make a living and afford to eat).

First thing that goes through my mind, as I lay down on my friend’s bed, which ultimately it’s going to become my bed, when Maria leaves in 2 weeks, is that things are pretty scary, and maybe not as easy as I thought they will be. Maria kept reassuring me over the last couple of weeks, that it will be fine, and that I will love it here, but now I am starting to second guess my decision. Was this actually a good decision? Or more of a spur of the moment kind of thing. Am I actually going to be fine and enjoy this place? Or am I going to fail and return home without achieving anything or discovering greatness?

I find it hard, I guess hard is not the word, I do not find as easy as I thought it will be, which in the grand scheme of things cannot be too bad. Everyone around me speaks Spanish, and even though I studied Spanish, and I understand it perfectly, I cannot seem to be able to open my mouth. Is this how it’s going to be? Ultimately, do I need to settle into an English speaking country? Or will I be able to adapt sooner rather than later? I guess we will see, I have only been here for a few hours, I cannot possible have the answers, but I will make sure I will write my progress or not so much progress…cause either way, I am stuck here for the next 5 weeks….or maybe more.

P.S. I already have a couple of mosquito bites!!!!

A.

I flew across the Atlantic

Going to America it was never one my dreams, however after meeting a fair share of Americans in my travels across Europe, I developed an interest in this country and I was definitely intrigued by it. So one afternoon I decided it’s time for me to go and explore this part of the world, therefore I bought no one, but three flight tickets. Since the trip was planned for December, and some parts of me wanted to be in the sunshine, I decided California it’s my best option. After a 13h flight, I finally arrived to San Francisco. From San Francisco I took the Bart Train towards Oakland. Now, I know you think ‘what the hell is she doing in Oakland out of all the places she could have gone?’ Trust me, I heard that a lot since I’ve been here. The truth is, I didn’t pick Oakland, Oakland chose me. I didn’t visit it, and I don’t know anything about Oakland (apart that their home team is The Oakland Raiders). For the first 3 days of my American adventure I stayed in Oakland while visiting San Francisco during the day. I was lucky enough to meet Marc, who was my host for the three days I spent in Oakland/San Francisco. He was kind enough to take to a couple of amazing restaurants for dinner and to share with me stories of his travels and other people he hosted. I can completely understand why people go back to his when they are on holiday on that part of the country. image My first dinner in America! image Bagels for breakfast! image The Ramen Restaurant in Oakland! Even if I was in Oakland for breakfast and dinner, the rest of the time I spent it in San Francisco. If you’re coming from Europe, and you consider Europe your home, being by yourself in a huge city in America, can be pretty scary. I need to admit I was anxious that I won’t see everything that I want to see and I won’t explore enough and I won’t experience the true America. However, in my first day there I met Kim Lee, an over-enthusiastic man who offered to take me around and show me the best parts of San Francisco. The best part for me was that it was for free, the other good parts were about to follow. I cannot recommend enough that if you find someone who is willing to be your tour guide for the day, to take him/her up on the offer. There’s too much to see in a short period of time, so when you’re with a local they will know exactly where to take you. Now…it’s up to you to be open minded. The over-enthusiastic man came to pick me up in his car, and since everyone drives in America, that was no surprise, but when the interior of the car is cover in leopard print, and the driver insists in playing ridiculous load music, whilst having all four windows down, is when it gets serious. But I was a trooper, I put up with it, and thank God, nobody knew in San Francisco. All in all, it was a fun experience to add to my American holiday.

My three and a half weeks in America were divided between San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Venice Beach, and ultimately New York. This is just a sneak peek of what I will write about in the next few weeks.  All the things I have been through, all the people I met, all fantastic food I ate are too much to integrate in one simple article, so I will attempt to break this experience in a few more detailed ones, hopefully before my next holiday.

Is there such thing as The Perfect Travel Companion?

Thank you Mandy! You are indeed the best travel friend I could have asked for! Love you lots! Xx

WhyNot Travel

You’ve all heard the stories. Best friends and groups of college mates, embarking off on the trip of a lifetime. What could be better then you, your friends and backpacking across the world? Two weeks into the trip Sue and Amy are at each other’s throats, Megan just bought a ticket home and as for Amanda… Shit no one’s seen her in days. Amanda was left in Spain.

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Travelling is a facilitator of new, interesting and enduring friendships. It is also infamous for ruining friendships in irreparable ways. How can such a good thing be so bad for our human bonds?

The thing is, Travel is such a subjective experience and we all have our preferred choices. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it fast food, some like it slow and you get my drift. Just, HOW (?) when everyone wants to do something different, are you supposed…

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Oslo a pied on a very hot end of summer day!

It’s a funny story how we (my friend Mandy, again, and myself) started our journey to Norway. After the little planning that we usually do before embarking on a new adventure (like buying our plane tickets and deciding over the dates), we wake up at 3am one morning ready to go on yet another adventure this year. Who would have thought that it will be a holiday full of surprises. The wake up call that morning wasn’t our alarm, no..it was far from it, because I think we were still half asleep when we were walking towards the bus station to catch a coach to Stanstead when Mandy got egged. Yes, she had a raw egg thrown at her (you can read the whole story here:http://whynottravelmandy.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/an-uneggspected-journey/ ). My hysterical laughter and she feeling almost sick definitely woke us up, and prepared for 3 brilliant days in Oslo. I need to let everyone know that I wasn’t laughing at her, and I did apologize to her on plenty occasions for my laughter, but it is what I do in situations like this, it’s like a coping mechanism. Otherwise I couldn’t have washed her hair in the bus stop, or in the airport’s bathroom, and probably I wouldn’t have carried a smelly jumper in my backpack for 3 days. Soon after we got to the airport and we got rid of the smell, the day looked brighter (having a shot of whisky at 6am and a full session of make-up, makes you feel 100% better)

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We managed to board the plane and get to Norway. Once in Norway, we had a rather long train journey from the airport to Oslo central station, but apart from the massive confusion of how expensive the ticket was (Mandy’s app wasn’t working properly) we were very happy we were in Oslo. (FYI, the ticket was around £16).

The rather long train journey wasn’t bad at all. We were very lucky the sun was out (and it stayed out for the next 3 days as well), and the views that Norway has to offer are very breathtaking. Looking through the train window couldn’t help but think on how different western and especially Scandinavian countries are to Eastern European ones. One can mainly see the difference at the countryside. In western and nordic Europe everything seems neat and in order and beautifully placed. It is peaceful and quiet and just perfect. I don’t think I could ever emphasizes enough how neat and perfect things look. Especially when you’re just passing by on a train. Here you can really find tranquility unlike the Eastern European countryside which gives you a chaotic feeling, where there’s a mix of everything and an unbelievable contrast  of colours and people and music and nature. I love them both, and I can relate to them both.

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Once we got to the central station in Oslo, we stopped for a coffee in Starbucks (and some wifi of course). What happened next, came as a surprise. Not in a million years I would have thought that this is going to be one of my first experiences in Oslo. This random guy and his group of friends (or better said brothers and sisters) started talking to me out of the blue. After the introductory bits and pieces that you normally have with someone that you haven’t met before he told me that him and his mates are going around town healing people. When I first heard ‘healing people’ I thought I didn’t understand right, so I asked him again, just to confirm. Yes, him and his group of friends, were preaching Jesus word and were apparently healing people who needed help. So after asking me if I have any pains, and me saying that my back hurts from my backpack they started praying to God to heal my lower back. They’ve done twice just to make sure God is hearing them and they filmed me. Yes, there’s a video out there (which I hope it will never go viral) which proves the fact that these guys prayed for me (and my lower back).

After Starbucks, we decided to take on our backpacks and start exploring Oslo, discovering it’s beauty. The first stop was the Opera which was indeed beautiful. The uneven roof on which you can climb to the top, the amazing views of the pier it gave me a sense of accomplishment and freedom. I think (for me) the feeling that would describe Oslo the best is freedom.

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We soon figured out that Oslo is definitely a must-do cities in Europe, and if you can understand it’s a bit more expensive that the usual places you go, you can have a lot of fun.

I can proudly say that Mandy and I did Oslo on a budget, and we haven’t really miss any important details. We walked. And I don’t mean, we walked the normal distance someone walks in a day, we walked the entire cities, we visited everything, and everything was done a pied. We walked through different neighbourhoods, we got lost and we walked some more. We ran, we jogged, we hiked in amazing parks, we walked. Yes there were times when we were wondering which way is better, of course we made poor choices, but did we enjoy it? Absolutely, every minute of it.

A few things I noticed about Oslo, maybe a few things that I wonder about Oslo, and a few that I don’t particularly like.

  • I think they are somewhat obsessed with nakedness (the statues I mean)
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  • They have a few very strange sculptures
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  • They somehow managed to build up houses and restaurants in the woods, without destroying (too much) the nature, so you can easily go for hikes and enjoy the fresh air, and even lay down in the middle of a football field at high altitude (which we did).
  • At crossings they have two red men and just one green. We were wondering why is that?
  • There are not as many tourists as you would see in any other place in Europe, you can take your time when sightseeing and taking picture because there’s no crowd behind you waiting to do the same.
  • You need to pay for the toilets (I just thought I need to let people know this :D)
  • They claim it’s one of the oldest capitals if Europe, it doesn’t look like one, and that is somewhat disappointing. Everything appears to be new, and it just doesn’t give you a feel of the history and traditions.
  • If you dare to seem puzzled when you pay for something the answer is going to be ‘This is Oslo, it’s expensive!’ (Like we didn’t already know that, but thanks for being kind enough to remind us).
  • If you spend a few days in Norway, you’ll think the beauty is truly palpable. Everything around you looks beautiful and everyone around you looks stunning.
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  • We found a public toilet covered in newspapers (yes, you needed to pay to get in).
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  • That was Oslo. Mandy decided she wants to move there. I decided I want a roadtrip around Norway.