Follow:
Topics:
Search results for:

new zealand

    Europe Travel  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    The People You Will Meet on the Camino de Santiago

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    I can’t begin to count the people we have met. Hundreds. Thousands? Unique all.

    Hiking Skirt Lady – Cheerleader  Guy – Peter &Jane – Pennsylvania – Crazy Wine Guy – Dan & Louann – Japanese couple – Argentina – Gail from Sequim – Calgary Ladies

    It’s another amazing aspect of the journey we are on. You can’t begin to comprehend the array of nationalities, personalities, physical abilities, age and languages you encounter amongst the pilgrims on the Camino.

    The Marys – Guy with Dog – Bad Leg Australia – Denver – Super nice Italian Guy – The Brits with the van – Mexican partners – Nebraska

    We can’t remember everyone’s names so we give them nicknames.  “Hey look there’s little Japanese lady.  We haven’t seen her since Burgos.”  Or “Was that South Africa #2 we just passed?”

    So many conversations.  We learn a little bit about a lot of people.  Once again it’s astounding how each person’s journey is unique.

    Sisters from Sisters – Nathan – German tour group – Quebec – Lady/Man? With stuffed Tiger – South Korea – Brazil Guy – Obnoxious Vegetarian American

    A woman from Australia told us she hates the Meseta, it reminded her too much of the Outback. So she took a bus and skipped the entire section.  What??  That was my favorite! So beautiful.

    French boys – Finnish Family – New Zealand – Cute Irish couple – Richmond Virginia – Rogue River – Flower hat lady – Texas Gals

    For weeks we have encountered a British group of
    six walking, and one woman driving a van to meet them at the end of each day.  Another group of Germans also with a support vehicle following but they stopped at the halfway point.  They will return next year to do the second half.

    Old Slow Man – Toronto – The Dutch – Big guy with tattoos – Mexico – Catalan Girls – Guy with long hair – Salt Spring Island – Northern Ireland

    A conversation with  Spanish man who thinks too many tourists on the Camino take away from the “original” purpose – only to find out this guy is riding a bike.  Doubtful many original pilgrims had a mountain bike.

    Mutt & Jeff – Munich – Maia from Australia – Vancouver – Wilkerson WA – Chain Smoker – Guy in my Bunk – Ohio

    At the same time we arrived at the Cruz de Ferro the other day two huge tour buses pulled up on the road and out piled at least 100 Korean tourists.  We had just walked up to the 5000 foot mark while they came up on a bus.  Then they proceeded to walk down the other side making the trail crowded and making me irritated. I was exhausted and they were fresh and fast.  This seems wrong to me to see the Camino done this way, but I’m trying hard not to judge.  It’s hard though.

    Couple celebrating 30th Anniversary – Punk Rocker from Taiwan – Loud Woman on her cell phone – Utah – Munich – Blind Guy with Brother

    On our first day we met an older woman from Australia and she was walking alone.  She said she was slow but could go far.  I’ve thought of her every day since. Particularly on the days where I was struggling, when the weather was bad or the trail was tough. I hope she is still out there. I wish I had gotten her contact info.  I’m worried for her.  This isn’t easy.

    Spanish Six – Curly Redhead – Irish Hiking Club – Scotland – Tattoo Girl – Phoenix – Lost Lady

    In just a few days we will reach Sarria, 100km from Santiago.  We know the Camino will change at this point and we feel sad about it.  Here is where we will be joined by hundreds of pilgrims who only walk the final 100km.  I know the experience will be different starting here and I expect not as serene.  It will also be odd to suddenly be surrounded by fresh new pilgrims we don’t know.  I hope our comrades aren’t lost in the shuffle.

    Seattle – Grey Couple – Slow Walkers – Coug – Hawks Fan –

    What do others call us I wonder?

    We all are here for different reasons with different goals, life experiences and expectations.  But we all share one name in common;

    Pilgrim.

    Buen Camino.

    Miles walked 375. Miles to go 114.

     

     

     

     

    Europe Travel

    The Long Haul

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    Day 14 and there is something happening that hadn’t occurred to me before – mental fatigue. Walking everyday, all day it begins to set in just how long this adventure is, both in miles and in days. At two weeks in I’m astonished at how far we still have to go. The days, weeks and miles unfold ahead in and endless fog and the end seems nowhere in sight.

    And so we settle in for the long haul. 

    After two weeks we have made some adjustments to help both the physical and mental strain;

    1. We are taking days off. Today we arrived in Burgos. Originally we had planned Burgos to be our first day off but it is actually our second. We plan to take at least one day a week off from here on. Originally we planned to arrive in Santiago around
    October 8th. Now we think it will be the 11th.

    2. I got rid of my pack. Arne has changed his mind about it being “cheating” not to carry the pack. I feel so much better now. The service picks up the pack in the morning and it is waiting for me when we arrive at our destination. We have lightened Arne’s load too, putting much of what he was carrying into my pack to take at least ten lbs off of him. 

    3. We are listening to our bodies. Most of our early aches and pains have gone, but we both have colds and the plantar fasciitis has continued  to give me trouble. Today, rather than take a chance of completely ruining my foot we called a cab to take us the last three miles into Burgos. My thinking is better I take a cab three miles than have my whole Camino ruined.  Tomorrow in Burgos I might go shop for some shoes that can provide me some additional support.

    With all that said, we are really thankful to be here.  Each mile has something new be it people or scenery or history or weather. Spain is a gorgeous place and all along the Camino the people are kind and supportive. We have met people from all around the world – Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Germany , France, England, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, and of course the USA (Nebraska, Ohio, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Florida).

    We have found our comfort zone in our pace and in
    our style of accommodations. Still working out the food however (blog to come on that).  Rain has threatened but only materialized twice and Mother Nature has been very gentle on us and we are very grateful for that.

    Walking side by side with my husband we sometimes go thirty minutes without speaking.  And other times we talk about the future or reminisce about the past or laugh and sing and pass the time in idle chatter.

    Each day is good.  We have settled in for the long haul.

    179 miles so far. 310 miles to go.

    Europe Travel

    My Camino

    In the beginning…

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    It was a relief to finally start walking. I just needed to GO. And so we did.

    Day One. Leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port

    We arrived in Saint Jean Pied de Port France on the evening of August 31st. Went straight to the Albergue we had reserved in advance, located right in the Camino. But at checkin

    On the steep climb on day one

    the very rude owner
    told us we would need to pay again, even though we had a paid in full confirmation from

    Bunk room in Orisson

    Booking.com. Apparently Booking. Com hadn’t paid her, even though we booked months ago. Arne says to her this is between her and Booking.com. She says no, I won’t allow you in the room until you pay.

    Ugh. What are we supposed to do?  We need a place to sleep. So we pay. She is not kind. We are pissed and now need to try and get a refund from Booking.com.

    The Albergue in Orisson

    So I try to put it behind me. I want my mind clear and focused on the task we have worked hard for. We sleep restlessly and are up and ready to go by 7:30am. Step out the door and we are on the path. Here we go.

    The beginning poses a problem. You need to choose. Either only go five miles day one because it is very

    We frequently have an audience.

    steep. Or do the steep five miles and then continue another 12 to the next town.

    Since it was day one we chose the short day. And it was very steep, and also very beautiful. But it wasn’t all that difficult to do just five miles and we were at our stopping point by 10am. Sheesh. What were we going to do all day?

    Water is available all along the route

    We ate lunch at 10:30 because I was starving. We then showered and sat out in the sun to get my hair to dry. But the weather then took a turn so we went and laid in our bunk beds and read for hours.

    We were in a bunk room with a total of ten beds. Arne was the only male. Women seem to outnumber men about four to one.  Curious that.

    Dinner in Orisson

    Dinner for forty people was served at 6:30 and it was really delicious – chicken and vegetables with wine.  We enjoyed talking to other guests and then everyone introduced themselves and said where they were from.  Pilgrims from South Korea, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, Holland, England, Spain, France and the USA.  We briefly told our story about how the Camino was the

    Bread and coffee for breakfast

    catalyst for our Grand Adventure and we got a big round of applause.

    I slept like a log with my ear plugs in and woke at 6:15.  Breakfast so far has only been bread and jam and coffee.  I’m a bit disappointed by that.  I really need some protein when I’m tackling a mountain.  But no protein for this mountain.

    It was beautiful but chilly when we started walking at 7:45.  We had 12 miles today, and most of it up.  But after less than an hour we saw the storm coming.  We stopped and put our rain covers on our packs and put on our ponchos.

    The start of day two

    The rain came.  It was a sideways rain.  Very cold.  Windy and the damp seeped into my bones.  Slogging along the fog so thick we couldn’t see more than 40 feet in front of us.  After an hour I needed to put on another layer.  I was shivering and so cold so we stopped and got out another coat.  Then we continued the climb.  We ate our sandwiches as we walked because it was just too wet to stop.  Slogging on.

    Miserable conditions

    Finally the wind stopped and the rain lessened.  Grateful.  At the peak elevation 4680 feet there was actually someone selling hot coffee.  I think he was an angel in disguise.  That coffee made the

    At the summit 1420 metres

    remaining three miles down much easier.

    We arrived in Roncesvalles 6 hours after leaving Orison. Here we have a real hotel.  No bunk beds.  Happy Hiker! Hot shower, a little yoga, a beer.  Oh the pleasures of life!

    Tomorrow is a long one – 17 miles.  But it is relatively flat and hopefully dry.  Surely better weather than today!

    Our route yesterday, today and tomorrow

    Total so far 17 miles!  Only 472 more to go!! 😳

    Buen Camino!

     

     

    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    Food As Culture and History

    Chapter Nine – Croatian Cooking

    Location: Croatia

    It’s my goal in each country to take a cooking class.  It is always an unforgettable experience – as much about culture and history as it is about food. Unfortunately it didnt happen in New Zealand, Seychelles or Bulgaria. But here in Croatia I’m back at it, and enjoyed last night an amazing cultural Croatian experience at the historic Agroturizam Kameni Dvori

    Coming to Dubrovnik?  Make this a priority. Definitely.

    Our tour guide Marija with Dubrovnik Food Story picked me up right across the street from our Airbnb. I joined one other couple, Americans on their honeymoon from Dallas.  We drove about 35 minutes into the hills outside of Dubrovnik, enjoying the scenic views along the way. Our destination Kameni Dvori in the village of Livorno in the Konovale region. This tiny part of Croatia is about ten minutes west of the border with Bosnia Herzegovina and 15 miles north of the border with Montenegro and is steeped in agricultural as well as border conflict history.

    We were greeted on arrival by Katerina, one member of the 16 member family that lives on this site. The family Mojo can trace their ancestors in this very house back to 1536. Remarkable.

    Katarina welcomed us with two kinds of homemade grappa, two kinds of homemade candy and dried figs followed by a brief tour of the main house which is now used for the cooking classes, a taverna and for dining for guests of the inn.

    The massive open fireplace dwarfs the tiny kitchen where we headed next to make Turkish coffee.  While we sat and enjoyed our coffee Katarina and Marija talked about some of the history of the house and the family. Then it was time to head to the garden.

    Baskets in hand we proceeded to gather the fresh ingredients for our dinner picking tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, celery and parsley.  Then we toured the rest of the garden where everything from laurel trees, figs,olives and pomegranates grow.  We gathered eggs from the happy Croatian chickens and headed back to the kitchen.

    First job was to get the fresh bread mixed and kneeded and set it to rise. Next we whipped a dozen egg whites to a lovely froth, added sugar and flour to prepare the traditional Croatian wedding cake called padispanj. While it baked we popped in to the car and drove to the next farm over where we milked a goat. My first milking experience! Thank goodness for a patient goat!  It was fun, not too difficult and surprisingly warm!!

    Milk pail in hand we thanked the neighbor and looked forward to the goat cheese we would be having at dinner thanks to her goats.  Back to the kitchens we went where it was time to start the fire for the main attraction the Peka, traditional Croatian meat and potato dish .  It takes an hour to get the coals hot enough in the fireplace so while the fire burned we prepared a vegetable soup with hand made gnocchi.  Our gnocchi was not potatoe but made simply with egg, olive oil and semolina flour.

    Next we sliced eggplant and zucchini dipped in corn flour and fried it golden brown on the stove, then let it sit on paper towels.

    When the coals were ready the Peka was prepared – olive oil (produced on the farm) is poured into a large round and shallow pan.  Into the pan goes veal, lamb, garlic, onion and salt.  A layer of potatoes goes on top and then it is placed into the fire and covered with a giant steel “bell”.  Ashes are placed all around to seal and then the bell is covered with coals.  Now it bakes for 90 minutes.  Oh the smell!

    Peka is a complicated and time -consuming dish. Not something you would prepare everyday. It is for special occasions and unfortunately there is no “quickie” version.  If you don’t have a giant fireplace you aren’t going to be making Peka.

    While the Peka was on the fire we hiked up to the top of the property to survey the estate. Here you can see the entire valley and all the way to the Adriatic Sea. We learned more about the incredible history, including that during the 1991 war the Yugoslav Army occupied the village and the estate and the family fled into old Dubrovnik. Luckily the estate was not destroyed, although many things were stolen.  Not everyone was so lucky.

    Back to the kitchen and it was time for dinner. We first enjoyed grappa and figs as well as our own bread with olive tapenade, pickled peppers and cheese from our friendly goat.  Next a beautiful selection of smoked meats they do on the farm and a different cheese from our goat as well as sliced fresh tomatoes and our fried eggplant and zucchini.

    Next the Peka was served and it was incredible.  The lamb so tender and the veal falling apart.  Best potatoes I ever had.  When our platter was empty and we were all full here comes another platter full! All of this washed down with both white and red wine made on the farm. Delicious.

    We ended our Croatian feast with our light and airy cake with a cup of warm fresh goats milk and mint tea.

    A remarkable experience.  I felt very much a part of this family and their remarkable tradition and dedication to their culture and history- all while enjoying a spectacular meal based on sustainable farming and dedication to historical practices.

    When you are in Dubrovnik, make this a priority. And anywhere you travel – slow down and embrace food as culture and history.

    Hvala to Dubrovnik Food Storyand Kameni Dvori. Hvala!

     

     

     

     

    Europe Travel

    Endless Summer

    Chapter Eight – Beat the Heat

    Location: Bulgaria

    From the very beginning we have tried to follow the sun and warmth. And with the exception of some very chilly and very rainy days in New Zealand, we have succeeded.

    We love warm weather, but we also packed for warm weather, only carrying a limited number of clothing for the cooler climes.

    Its easier and lighter of course to visit warm climates. Not to mention the fact that we love being outdoors, always more fun if it’s sunny and dry.  I think growing up in the Pacific Northwest made me want to have the glorious PNW summer – all year

    Our month in Bulgaria is winding down. We have seen short bouts of rain, but overall the weather has been really nice and very comfortable.

    We have now entered full-on summer in Europe. Yesterday was the warmest we have seen since the Seychelles at 91 degrees Fahrenheit, but even here in the Black Sea the humidity is low and the breeze is refreshing.

    I’m not sure I can get any tanner.  I’m not bragging.  I just have this skin that absorbs the sun. I always have.  No one else in my family gets as dark as I do.  It just is what it is.  My grandma used to call me a little papoose. I do have some Native American blood, but my gene pool is more Anglo and Scandinavian than Indian. So go figure.

    As expected Sozopol is now bustling with tourists. By July 1st it should be booming. But by July 1st we will be in Dubrovnik.

    I expect Dubrovnik to be a madhouse.  July and August is peak season, very hot and swarming with cruise ship visitors. I’m mentally prepared to deal with that, and we are lucky to have enough time in that city (two weeks) so we can avoid being in Old Town During the peak hours a day when the cruise ships are in port. It’s the best part about the Grand Adventure, taking our time.

    Croatia will be HOT. Both in Dubrovnik and then in Spilt. Slovenia will also be hot and then August in Portugal will be even hotter. Last week Portugal was experiencing devastating forest fires, due to unusual extreme heat.

    But we asked for it. I’ve made the comment many times that I wanted to live somewhere dry where I could be outdoors every day. I’m there.

    And so the Endless Summer continues as the thermometer soars. Luckily we are always near the water.

    Five days left on the beautiful Black Sea…

    Everything Else Fabulous

    One Year. One Suitcase. One Backpack. One Green T-Shirt

    Chapter Eight

    Even though we just passed the six month out of the USA mark, today actually marks one year that we have been homeless and living out of a suitcase.  It was one year ago today that we began Chapter One of the Grand Adventure when we flew to Hawaii for one month. (Refresher – Chapter One Hawaii, Chapter Two Idaho/Wa Bike Tour, Chapter Three Ireland/Scotland/England/Norway, Chapter Four

    Hawaii

    Betty Road Trip, Chapter Five SE Asia, Chapter Six New Zealand, Chapter Seven Seychelles, Chapter Eight Bulgaria)

    I’ve learned a lot living with only the things I can get in one suitcase and one backpack and it is frankly by far the most valuable lesson of all the lessons so far.

    Route 66

    Simple is best.  Simple is easiest.  Simple is fabulous.

    I stressed so much about what to pack when we were preparing for the journey.  And as the time has gone on its come down to the tried and true items

    Tuscany

    that I wear over and over and over.  If you are a follower of my personal Facebook page you see me in the same clothes again and again.  Because those are the things that work.  If it doesn’t work it is either stuffed in the bottom of my suitcase or I have

    Sacramento

    already rid myself of it.  I expect my clothes to work for me.

    The Green T-shirt is my best example. I have a green t-shirt that I have owned for at least twenty years.  Obviously they don’t make t-shirts like this anymore because it is a superb quality t-shirt.  The funny

    Ireland left and New Zealand right

    thing is I got it from my Mom, she didn’t like it and had only worn it a few times.  This was in 1997.  I remember because we were going to Japan and that is the first travel destination I took the green t-shirt.  And I am still wearing that darn

    Ethiopia

    thing today in Bulgaria twenty years and god knows how many millions of miles later.  I’ve shared several photos I could find of me over the years in that doggone t-shirt.

    Finding a simple, quality and comfortable piece of

    Seychelles

    clothing is just what I need in my Fab Fifties and on the Grand Adventure.  I have a few other items with me that are pretty old (blue checked dress at least 20 years, navy blue blouse with white embroidery 11 years, and teal linen sundress 8 years) and have stood the test of time and when the day comes and they literally fall apart I will feel the loss.

    One suitcase.  One backpack.  One year.  It’s hard

    Pullman

    for me to imagine now why I ever needed all those clothes and shoes and handbags and stockings and lingerie and necklaces and earrings and scarves  and STUFF.  It feels good every time I put on my trusty green t-shirt and I know the pure joy of a simple,

    Burkina Faso

    uncomplicated and fabulous adventure life.  Year Two – suitcase in tow, green t-shirt ready to go.

     

    Europe Travel

    Why Bulgaria?

    Choosing Carefully our European Destinations

    Location: Bulgaria

    Chapter Seven ends – Chapter Eight begins

    And so it’s farewell to Seychelles.  It has really grown on me.  When we first arrived and I realized how remote, how humid, and how little fresh produce there was I wasn’t pleased.  Further realizing we maybe needed a car after all didn’t help.  But after 33 days the place has really grown on me and I love it.  It has been a wonderful opportunity to once again see how much of the world lives – simply.  Life does not end if you can’t find a ripe tomato or that perfect cheese or that good bottle of wine.  This is life for much of the world and being reminded of that once again, is part of the Grand Adventure.  Thank you to the gorgeous Seychelles and the unassuming and kind Locals and expat community of this island for reminding me.

    Eastern Europe

    So as we begin Chapter Eight we finally head to Europe, but skirt the Schengen (see explanation below) for the next two months.  We spend all of June in Bulgaria and July in Croatia.  So why Bulgaria you ask?  Here is my explanation –

    First off, I am very interested in seeing more of, for lack of a better term, the former Eastern block countries.  Those countries that were not so long ago under one of the communist rules. At first we were going to visit Bulgaria and Romania in June, but after studying  decided we needed at least a month in each country.  So Bulgaria is first and we will hit Romania next year.

    But let me take a minute to explain what the

    Schengen countries are purple and blue

    Schengen is for those of you who don’t know (I’ve written about this before, so apologizes for repeating).  It’s a bit complicated but has been a very important factor in our travel planning over the past several years.  And because of the Schengen Agreement, we will have spent the first eight months of our travel in non-Schengen countries (Asia, Africa, New Zealand, Bulgaria and Croatia).

    The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 and went into effect in 1995, opening borders between certain European countries.  A handful of countries in the beginning, the Schengen has expanded greatly over the past 22 years and now includes 26 countries with common borders.  The first time I visited Europe in 1988 our passports were checked as we drove between countries with manned border patrols.  That no longer happens.  Free traffic flows between countries such as France, Germany, Belgium, Poland etc. – those countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement.

    The catch however, for travelers like us, is that you can only remain in the Schengen area for 90 days within any 180 days.  So if you want to spend six months in say, France, you must apply for a complicated and expensive visa.  Otherwise, your time in France or any of the combined Schengen area countries can only be three months in any 6 month period.  You can’t go out and come back in and have your 90 days start again.  Only after another three months can you re-enter the Schengen area.

    We were well into our travel planning before we learned what the Schengen was.  I had never heard of it.  It certainly was a surprise and put a bit of damper on our plans.  Particularly because we are planning to walk the Camino de Santiago in September and we wanted to allow six weeks to do the 500 mile walk.  Six weeks out of our 90 days is a big chunk.  And so this is how it came to pass that we will have been on the Grand Adventure for 8 months before we finally enter a Schengen country on July 25th when we will cross the border from Croatia into Slovenia.

    At that point the Schengen clock starts ticking.  Our ninety days will start in Slovenia, continue in Portugal, then onto Spain and end when we fly from Barcelona to Tunisia on October 19th – just shy of 90 days.

    Neither Bulgaria or Croatia are currently in the Schengen, although Croatia is next on the list for admittance.  Stability, both financial and political is a big factor as far as how the decision is made for entrance into the area.  So if you ever plan to travel for an extended period of time, be sure to study up on your Schengen countries.  Read more here.

    I’m not sure Bulgaria would have made the list if I hadn’t been forced to research more about Eastern Bloc countries.  We spent time in Hungary a few years ago and loved it.  We have also been to Northern Croatia and the Czech Republic and found both absolutely charming.  And the food is wonderful.  So I expect Bulgaria to be similar and I am excited to explore yet another country few Americans consider visiting.  It has become a tourism destination for Russians and Europeans, similar to so many of the places we have already been, I expect to be the minority American.

    We will fly from the Seychelles on the 29th, which marks our six months on the road.  We fly to Doha, Qatar and spend one night there.  Then it’s onto Sofia the capital of Bulgaria for three nights.  We then will travel by car to the mountain region and town of Veliko Tarnovo for ten days where we will do a lot of hiking.  Then it’s onto Sozopol on the Black Sea for 16 nights.  Sozopol is an ancient trade city from the Ottoman era.  The Black Sea region has become a huge tourist destination.  It should be very interesting.

    So why Bulgaria?  This is why and how Bulgaria became part of the Grand Adventure. I look forward to learning more history, meeting the people, and eating their food, which includes a lot of fresh vegetables, grilled meats and stews.  Yum.  I suspect I will find plenty of blog material along the way.

    Look out Bulgaria – the Lund’s are coming!