Travelling solo for long period of time: daydream or a nightmare?

I think we all had those gloomy Monday’s when our boss wasn’t happy with anything we did or our co workers irritated the crap out of us by simply breathing. Or maybe your boss is great or you are your own boss but you simply wondered if there is more to life than just paying taxes, searching for our other half and getting a mortgage.

At one point or another we all sat at our lunch break and considered packing our bag with essentials only and boarding a one way flight to another continent.

We all had a vision of ourselves sipping cocktails by the pool, dancing with strangers during the week, hitchhiking through most scenic routes, tasting new cuisines and star gazing, maybe living with a local family whilst learning how to horse ride:)

Exactly 165 days ago I’ve left London with one small backpack and a suitcase and one way ticket to Central Asia and this hasn’t been one long happy trip.

Between you and me I’m also surprised that I lasted this long 😂 I gave myself a month top lol was ready to fly back to safety after a week!

Btw that’s me on my flight… can you see the doubt on my mind!???

If you look at my Instagram you will mostly see pictures of beautiful scenery with the occasional smiley selfie and mandatory wise quote underneath 🙂 Believe me , it’s not always sunny and things will go wrong one way or another…

There will be rainy days, flights or buses will get cancelled, accommodation will turn out to be not so good, you will meet rude people, you will get injuries. It’s all part of the journey.

To date those are my injuries and downfalls:

-had altitude sickness twice

-one scorpion bite

-one bee sting

-one spider bite

-2 bruised bones

-one raven attack

-2 shepherd dogs attacks

-been scammed by a taxi driver

-met some unkind travellers

-almost got into a fight in a club

I thought saying goodbye to all my old friends and acquaintances was hard. I didn’t know that I will meet so many lovely people on my way and saying goodbye will become as common as saying hello.

People travel for very different reasons. I met married people who travel solo, couples who met whilst travelling, people who take break from the corporate world, people making their ways across continents. The youngest traveller I met was 21 and the oldest 74:) There is no such thing as the right time as you can see!

My reason? I love discovering new places, tasting new food, walking down a street and not be haunted by memories…

I was also tired and bored of having the same small conversations with the same people every day: how are you? When are you going back home? What will your next job be?

Unfortunately as a traveller I had to face even more tedious questions: where are you originally from? Why arent you married? When are you going back? Where are you travelling next?

I’m not even joking but some people asked me where am I from before they even said hello…

Im not saying I’m hiding my nationality (I’ve been accused of that!) I just simply don’t see how it matters to someone I just met? And do you know why it matters to most people? Because when you tell them where you from they will immediately put you in a box. Box full of whatever information or impression they have of that country and they will treat you accordingly. I hold two passports but frankly I don’t associate my nationality with my personality.

My favourite type of travellers so far are all those fearless independent solo female travellers. I consider myself a beginner when it comes to travelling and I’ve met women who are on the road anything from 2 yrs to 5 yrs. non stop! They always had a piece of advice and encouragement to share. Of course I also met fantastic males travelling solo. However they never encountered certain issues so I couldn’t ask for advice…

yes, travelling as a female can be a bit more challenging especially when it comes to safety.

I often get asked if I’m scared. My answer is always the same: of what?

The truth is of course I’m scared. I’m scared of dogs, bears and…people. I now carry a whistle and small knife with me. Rather as a precaution than a weapon. Had to use my whistle couple of times to draw attention of a sloppy dog owner and used my hiking poles to keep the dog away from myself. The knife is mainly for a survival emergency scenario like if I have to build myself a shelter (as if knew how to!).

For me this trip is mainly about discovering myself and letting go of any attachments. I also decided to face my fears such as claustrophobia. So far I got mixed results on that:) tunnels and small caves are still a no go…

Since I’ve mentioned downfalls it would be nice to also mention my small victories:

-done my first through hike (3 days)

-finally capable to walk 30km a day without breaking too much sweat

-I can pretty much navigate my way out of most forests or mountain areas (but still can’t find an exit out of shopping mall)

-I can live without cheese and be happy

-minimalist when it comes to clothes

-faced my fear of public speaking by volunteering at a school

-I learned to be happy in the moment instead of constantly fretting about the future and next step

But travelling solo for such a long period of time does take its toll on my mental health… I can rarely fully relax as I’m responsible for booking all accommodations, bus tickets etc… of course I became more relax when it comes to planning but still…it has to be done.

Sometimes, especially at nights, you will crave someone you can tell about your day…share the good laughs with or the tears. Journal can help with that a little bit:)

I know that for most people travelling solo is such a crazy idea as jogging is to me but if I encourage even one of you to take that step and do at least one solo trip, then I believe I fulfilled my life purpose:) no, I’m not saying that travelling as a couple of with a group of friends is bad… I’m just saying that everyone should at least try one solo trip in their life time!

The biggest fear many people have about this type of travel is that they will be lonely… trust me! That will be the least of your worries! Especially if you are a woman!

During my 165 days of travelling I had maybe 20 days when I was truly on my own. Oh, what a bliss that was since I’m an introvert :)) I needed that to recharge myself!

But believe me, you will always meet whoever or whatever you currently need.

Safe travels!

Sunshine all year round:) Canary Islands Part 1.

Do you dream of the Carribean sea, cocktails, golden sand beaches, blue skies and crystal clear water but don’t fancy spending all day on the plane to get that?

I have a great news for you! You can find all that in just 4hr flight from uk and for the fraction of the price.

Canary Islands are volcanic isles located just off the coast of northwestern Africa. There are 8 islands in total, with the newest and smallest one being La Graciosa (just 29.05 square kilometres).

I feel like I should tell you upfront that I’m extremely biased when it comes to those islands. I simply love them!!

Love at first sight since 2014 and it is going strong:)

I visited 6 of them and would have a really hard time to pick my fav one, although I’ve been to Fuerteventura about 7 times by now:)

EL HIERRO

Second smallest (268.7 square kilometres) but don’t be put off. It still packs a punch when it comes to adventure and beauty.

There are two ways to travel to El Hierro: by plane from Tenerife North or by ferry from Tenerife South.

For comparison: the flight takes 40min whilst the ferry takes 2hr 30min more or less. When it comes to price it all depends on the day of the week you travel.

The airport is fairly small but not the smallest I’ve ever traveled to. There is a great information desk with a very helpful staff. You can pick up your bus time table, number to a local taxi and tips on what to see on the island.

Here is the link for a local public transport:

http://www.transhierro.com/servicios.cfm?tipo=regular

I also found the locals to be very kind and helpful even tho not many will speak English.

I took a taxi to the hotel because I would have to wait for the bus couple of hours and since I was only in El Hierro for a day and a half, every minute doubted. Could easily spent there at least a month just to take it all in:)

After my check in I ran to the bus station to get the bust to Frontera.

I’ve never been to New Zealand but I feel like this is a mini version of it:)

I also love how peaceful it was!

Because I was short on time I asked for recommendations at the information centre and they said I should visit La Maceta, the natural swimming pools.

It was December and it was super hot (26-28C) so a dip in the cold water sounded heavenly 🙂

The walk is about 4.7km front he Frontera bus station or 2.3km from the Ecomuseo de Guinea. It is a very pleasant walk I must say but again, I love walking:)

Unfortunately the ocean was a little bit too rough that day and I didn’t have the courage to swim:)

I met a local family, super friendly. The parents didn’t speak English but their son did a little and they helped me to get to the bus stop.

Valverde is a really pretty little town. I’m not sure if Christmas is usually the quiet season there because the island seemed pretty empty.

No complains there tbh:)

The next day I got up early since I wanted tot do a bit of hiking before my flight back to Tenerife.

So I headed towards Tinor, where you can find plenty of walking trails and two peaks: Ventejis and La Montana.

I loved how empty the roads were. It was mainly just me a rams. I think it was my first time actually meeting rams and well…it didn’t go well.

I actually had to find another route since the whole flock wouldn’t let me pass through.

Yes I know that whilst hiking one may get close to wild life, but I’m not used to being chased away by one lol

Have you ever been to a place so beautiful that it made you cry?

El Hierro did it for me. I called my friend and simply started sobbing 😭

I mean how can I even try to describe the tranquility? The gorgeous views?

Also I find it hard to believe that the same Source that created this also created me… I mean come on…

The trails were pretty empty but I have crossed path with other hikers. Even tho La Montana stands 839m tall, and Ventejis 1139m the hike is pretty easy because Valverde is already elevated.

The view on a clear day is just spectacular. You can see La Gomera and Tenerife with Teide.

It’s like a perfection:)

Did I mention already that I would be more than happy to stay there for at least a month to take it all in? Such a gorgeous place.

Total proof that great things come on small packages:) well…sometimes anyway.

Are you planning to visit Canary Islands soon? Give this little island go!

Happy travelling!

WHEN YOU LIVE NOWHERE NEAR MOUNTAINS NOR SEA part 1

If like me, you chose your place of living based on distance to work rather than distance to pleasure, and you now find yourself surrounded by a concrete jungle rather than pine trees (or palm trees if you prefer) then you are an idiot…we both idiots…
Luckily for us Great Britain has a solution for that. And no, it’s not travel abroad. Have you ever heard of the Grand Union Canal? Don’t worry if you haven’t because I have been living here for the past 12 yrs and only learned about it last month:)

In a nutshell the Grand Union Canal its a part of the British canal system. A glorious 220 km (137 miles) with main arm starting in London and ending in Birmingham. You can literally point a finger on this map and choose a segment that suits you best. You can bike it, run it, walk it, kayak it or simply hop on the boat.
Of course it’s best walked during the week when most people are at work or school but speaking from experience, I walked a part of it on a Sunday during half term and it wasn’t too bad. The busiest segments will be the one close to pubs, shops and play grounds. Well duh!
It is suitable for all ages HOWEVER the path can be very muddy and very narrow sometimes so please be careful, especially if you walk with little children.
If there is one thing that I noticed is that the further the path gets away from London the prettier the surroundings. But I’m probably biased. I never liked big cities.
Hanwell to Uxbridge (approximately 13km)

It only takes 15 min by train from Paddington station to get to Hanwell. From there you can either follow the Green Lane or the Brent river through Brent River Park. Once you get to the canal you will be presented with two choices: either take the arm towards London or the arm towards Watford.
I have to say on a sunny day this walk can be as satisfying as walking by the beach. No, it didn’t smell nasty although there are few parts that you may want to hold on your breath when passing through. Nothing major though.

I have to say that I had no idea how many people actually chose to live on a boat. It’s like another country. Each of those boats is as unique as its owner.

You will meet lots of swans and geese on your walk. Not sure how you feel about them but I personally preferred to be in a safe distance. Can’t really read their body language but I know they will hiss if you are too close:)

If there happens to be the owner on the boat you can be sure they will greet you with a hello and a smile! Very friendly folks!
If you are ever near Uxbridge I recommend a visit to the Little Britain Lake. Especially if you are a keen fisherman. Remember tho you will need a permit. Like for almost anything in Britain:)

There is a big picnic area for those summer days and plenty of space for kids to run around. I suspect it actually gets super busy in summer.
Did I convince you to give it a go? You can always grab couple of friends and turn it into a pub crawl as you will find plenty of them along the way. I know that few guys actually did just that and cycled the whole length:) enjoy it whatever your motivation!

Has Dominica invented the perfect diet for me? Part 1

“Once a year go somewhere you have never been before” Dalai Lama

I’ve been to the Caribbean before but this time I didn’t go for the beach, the music, the sun or the rum. Dominica is the only island that has a long distance hiking trail that runs across the whole island. The Waitikubuli Trail is 184 km (114 miles) long and is divided into 14 segments from Scott’s Head in the south to Capuchin in the north. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it???
You will be walking through coastal villages, lush rainforest, past waterfalls, up Woodland Hills and straight by the sea. Dominica really has it all.

There is no international airport so in order to reach this beautiful island you will need to either take a boat or arrive by plane from another island. I flew from St.Lucia. I love island hopping by air and planes with propellers:)

The first thing you will notice is the lush jungle like nature that is so abundant in Dominica, or rather was. Sadly almost 80% of the trees were permanently damaged during the hurricane Maria. And nobody is planting new ones.
The best way to travel from the airport to the hotel would be a car or a shared taxi. Unfortunately in a low season that can mean sometimes waiting for couple of hours for enough people to fill up the taxi. Yep, solo travellers have all the perks😂
Once in the taxi I can start seeing the damage in the forests. It’s heart breaking. Not to mention how many people have lost lives, homes and family. My driver told me he lost his dog:(((
In the video you can see the beautiful pink house that is missing roof.
I based myself in Rosseau because I wanted to be close to public transport. At the moment there aren’t many hotels in Dominica but you shouldn’t have a problem with finding a private accommodation.

Rosseau is a small town and main hub for tourists since most of them arrives by sea.
TIP: make sure you are always carrying cash with you since cards aren’t accepted everywhere.
After checking in I decided to hit the trail straight away. Busses in Dominica are private mini vans, so most of the time they won’t have any numbers or indications which direction they are going to. They will have some amazing paintings sometimes and stickers. No need to panic tho. They will have their designated stops and most drivers speak perfect English. Locals are extremely helpful too.
To hike the Waitikubuli trail you do need a pass. You can get it either from designated offices or at crossing segments of the trail. Since I was in Rosseau i headed straight to the Forestry, Wildlife and National Park Division. Because I wasn’t sure the exact location of that office I asked a lady, that sat next to me on the bus, for directions. She not only told me which direction to go to but also offered to walk me to there. It happened to me every time I asked a local for directions. They would simply walk me to where I needed to be:)
Sadly I was turned away at the office with nothing. They wouldn’t sell me the hiking pass. The official excuse was that the trail is closed. I was devastated. More so because I knew it wasn’t true. My taxi driver gave me a number to a local guide who walks with people on the trail, and he told me that some segments are indeed closed. But not the whole trail. I simply wasn’t allowed to hike it on my own:( most likely because I’m a female who looks like a child😂
You probably are wondering by now why didn’t I simply hire a guide. Well because I simply like to hike at my own pace. Looking back I wish I was a bit more open minded and maybe did make an exception this time.
Very disappointed and quite upset, I didn’t want to waste my whole day trying to fight the system. Instead I took a bus and went to see the Trafalgar falls.

TRAFALGAR FALLS

I will be honest with you, I don’t like that name. I didn’t travel half way across the globe to be reminded of London lol!
The bus stop for Trafalgar Falls is based on King George V Street, not far from the Astaphans shop and police station. The ticket is 4.5EC (Eastern Caribbean Dollar) which equals to £1.30 and it takes about 20 minutes to get to Trafalgar. From there is another 15-20 mins walk.

It’s a beautiful walk slightly uphill. You do need a site pass in order to visit the falls. From the office it’s a downhill walk.

There is no time limit on how long you can stay there. It’s a beautiful area, with lush green vegetation. All you can hear are birds, crickets and the roar of the water.
There are also list of crabs so be careful when you decide to tip your toes in the water.

I wasn’t even aware that this little fella was trying to catch my toe… Yes, Dominica is wild.
There was only one other tourist while I was there, and once she left I had the place all to myself. Jackpot!!!
I’m not sure how long did I stay there but once back up I discovered that the main office was closed and there was nobody around. Luckily they didn’t close the gate so I was free to leave.
I was heading back to the bus stop when I spotted a house hidden in the forest. Like how would they even build it there???

I was contemplating that idea when suddenly a car appeared in front of me. The driver noticed me and turned the car around so he was now driving by my side. Quite good looking male with one hand on the steering shell and the other holding a plastic cup with a rum. Drinking and driving…. when is that not a good idea? He asked me “are you here toying?”. I stared at him blankly because I couldn’t understand what was he asking about. I believe in being stupid once and ask rather than remain stupid without asking. I had to ask him three more times before he explained: “Touring+enjoying=toying”. Now, English isn’t my first language but even after over 12 yrs I was fairly confident I haven’t heard that expression before. After we established that I’m not that smart we had a little chat. I told him that I had a trouble to get the hiking pass and ask him for advice. He simply said they wouldn’t sell me the pass because I’m a female and I should get a guide. When I explained to him that I like solitude, he said with a knowing smile “A lone wolf” and drove off. I know, I’m such a hit with men… International hit one may say:) Rest of the way to the bus stop was uneventful. Just me and the nature.

PORTSMOUTH

The second biggest town in Dominica and home to Cabrits National Park.
To get to Portsmouth you need to find the bus stop on River Bank, near the junction between Roseau River Bridge and Great George Street. The ticket from Roseau costs 9.50 EC (£2.74) and the journey lasts over an hour, depends on traffic. There are no seat belts on the bus and they will be going super fast sometimes so just be prepared.
Most of the time there will be loud music busting through the speakers too:) It is quite different from the unlicensed transport I’m used to in England but tbh I do miss those mini vans sometimes:) it’s fun!
Since there are no bus stops with time tables, I would recommend to simply ask your driver about the return service if you aren’t planning on staying over night at Portsmouth.
It is 2.4km (1.5 miles) to Cabrits National Park from the bus stop. It’s a lovely walk as you will be walking by a sea side. You will pass by Purple Turtle Beach which is just lovely.

You do need a pass for the park. I am rarely interested in museums or old buildings so I head straight towards East Cabrit, a small hill with a fantastic view. It’s not a long hike and the path is mostly even, but it is uphill and you will walk through a forest. Very humid forest. What was surprising for me was the amount of crab shells I saw on my way. Last thing I would expect to find in the forest to be honest.
Once you reach the top you will get to see the beautiful Douglas Bay and Prince Rupert Bay.
From the park you can also join the last segment of the Waitibukuli Trail, segment 14. Of course I decided to walk that part.

Found a little beach completely empty except for a builder from nearby construction zone, who was taking a nap there.
I didn’t swim in the water but took off my shoes and just cooled my feet.

Caught the glimpse of Guadeloupe:)

DOES DOMINICA HAVE THE BEST DIET FOR ME?

The apartment I was staying at was located on a ground floor of a two storey house. My host, French lady who moved to Dominica over 20yrs ago, was based upstairs. Now I’m not sure if it was for personal preference or simply the side effect of the hurricane, but the living room in my apartment didn’t have a proper window. Generally not a big deal but that meant all the mosquitoes and creepy crawlers had the freedom to come in as pleased. And pleased they were indeed! Every night I was doing this crazy dance involving running around with a newspaper and squashing bugs! And mosquitos!
The first night there I discovered a big spider on my kitchen ceiling. I don’t like spiders but I respect most living creatures (exception are coackroaches!). I figured we can coexists under one roof. As long as I was sure I locked my bedroom double door securely. We did live in a perfect harmony for two nights but then the spider moved to the centre and I discovered I can live off snacks. And cooking dinner is just a waste of time. So is breakfast. I was only eating fruits for the rest of my stay:) Maybe that spider was sent to me to make me eat more healthy?? Maybe I can apply this here in uk? Turns out I love food but I dislike spiders more!

An Italian affair

I think it’s pretty clear form my post about lake como that I love Italy. I love it for the endless mountains that stretch for miles, for the beautiful lakes with crystal clear water, for the turquoise sea, for the blue skies and lush vegetation and for the delicious food:)
Liguria is very special to me because it has everything I need for a happy holidays, be it a weekend break or three week escapade.
Everyone can easily find something to do there: from mountain biking and hiking, to coastal walks and paddle boarding. And the best part? You really don’t need a car to see it all. The train service is fantastic and you can easily buy ticket online and just save it on your phone. As much hassle free as it can get.
Arenzano it’s a small coastal town with only about 12 000 citizens. That number grows obviously in summer when tourists from all over are coming to enjoy this scenic town.
The main hikers attraction is of course Monte Reixa standing at 1183m (3880 feet).
However if you simply fancy being closer to the sea but still get some decent walk, Arenzano is the perfect place.
The coastal walk I did is about 12km (7.5miles) long. The path it’s levelled which means is wheelchair/buggy accessible. The walk starts just off Piazza della Veccia Ferrovia parking.
Part of the path is following an old track of an ancient railway.

It can get super busy on weekends with not only pedestrians but also cyclists. Even tho I did it on Sunday it wasn’t too crowded.
When In Arenzano you may want to pay a visit to the stunning Villa Negrotto Cambiasso-muncipo in Parco Comunale di Arenzano.

Another lovely place to visit is Santuario Gesu Bambino di Praga.

Since the sanctuary is based on a little hill, you can easily see the panorama of the city from the terrace.
To enjoy the scenery during the walk you really do need a sunny day but if you like walking in any weather, then I think this path is perfect.

WARNING: when I was there back in January, part of this path was closed due to damaged tarmac. From Arenzano to San Giacomo the path is perfect but after that you will encounter gates blocking the entrance to the rest of the path. Locals did made some holes through which you can squeeze yourself in but you may be caught by a security.

The tunnels are well lit but very damp. The floor can be slippery and full of paddles so wear appropriate shoes.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take a break and have a meal or ice cream as you are never too far away from shops/cafes.
Varazze it’s a big town with a sea promenade and a fun fair. Not sure if the fair was seasonal or it’s a whole year deal. You can find some rides there as well as plenty of food stalls. It’s a rather noisy place and the busiest on the whole path. If you are planning to do this walk as a family you may want to start at Arenzano:) if you doing the walk alone or in a small company and simply don’t fancy crowds and loud music, then make Varazze the start of your walk with finish in Arenzano:) it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. There are also plenty of beaches so you can easily turn it into a full day adventure with a swim and a picnic.

The Siebengebirge Park Part 2 (and what happens when you had a meal at a restaurant, your card doesn’t work and you have no money to pay!)

On my second walk I had more time to play with as all I had to do was to roll out of bed and get ready. Apart from taking a tram to the beginning of this trail, I would rely solely on my feet for the whole walk. I could have walked from my hotel but I decided I want to spend that extra hour on the trail rather than getting to it.

DRACHENFELS

When buying a tram ticket just make sure you are paying the correct fare. You will find a poster with all the zones and ticket prices on the machine so just search for the name of your destination. You can also buy ticket in the tram. Make sure you will validate it.

Rhondorf turned out to be another small gorgeous town. So gorgeous in fact that I found it hard to follow my gps which was set to nature trails, as all I wanted to do was to get lost in those beautiful small cobbled roads.

My trail started just past the Hotel Weinhaus Hoff.

What started as a road very quickly turned into a forest trail.

Drachenfels stands at 321m (1053 feet) tall. The climb isn’t too challenging tho. Can get pretty muddy when wet so make sure you wearing proper shoes, waterproof and with a good grip.

The forest seemed to be very popular with woodpeckers and I also saw a red squirrel and an owl. Now I’m not on really good terms with birds of prey, as I was attacked by a falcon once and black bird twice.

You will find lots of viewpoints on this route where you can admire the view of Rhein and the surrounding area.

It was super foggy when I was there so my views were a little bit restricted. Hey, I was happy I could see the trail and my own nose.

You can book first class and best hotel in the town but you can’t book the weather…

The last part of this trail leading to the hill was made of stairs.

Yes it was tiring especially since I was carrying a backpack (fairly heavy since I’m still mastering the art of packing light!).

At the top you will find a cafe with excellent outdoor terrace, toilets and a train station. No, not DB. Just a small touristy train which can take you all the way to Drachenburg Schloss.

Sadly the Burg Drachenfels and the hill are off limit at the moment. There is a construction going on.

Off limit is also the most scenic route, Eselsweg.

Since I would have to wait an hour for the first train departure, I decided to hike to Drachenburg Schloss instead. The distance was only a 1km (3280 feet) so why not?

Well I could have given you a couple of reasons: firstly it was super foggy

and very slippery. But what’s a hike without a little bit of danger? And how can I believe I actually hiked when there are no scratches, bruises or cuts???

I’m glad I took this walk because I stumbled upon the most magnificent building, the Burghof.

I was so drawn to it like a moth to light. Was very tempting to actually go past the fence and see what’s inside but I didn’t it. It appeared there may be surveillance cameras so why risk it?

So the Drachenburg Castle opens to visitors from 12pm.

In the months of January and February the castle stays open late and they have a great light display after 6pm. I could easily come back for it then. Or so I thought. Little did I know a small mistake will prevent me from seeing that display.

Since it was only 11am I had about 6hrs to burn on the hike. My next destination was Grosser Olberg, standing at 460m (1509 feet) tall. I knew there will be a restaurant at the top so the vision of a hot beverage and possible hot meal helped me made my choice:) A good meal can only be made better when it comes with stunning views.

I followed Drachenfelsstraße and then Ferdinandstrasse. At the crossroads where those two meet you will find another restaurant: Milchhauschen. So plenty of opportunities to replenish your energy.

I love the fact that similarly to Norway, Germany build bridges to allow any wildlife and hikers cross roads more safely.

I paid a visit to Burgruine Rosenau because it was along my chosen path. Those are literally ruins or remains of yet another castle.

There is a bench on the top so a great spot for a picnic. In the summer perhaps lol

I also visited the Heinrich-Imbusch-haus which I think it’s a residential building now. Quite pretty but it spooked me.

When I looked into the windows this is what I saw:

I was actually about to wave thinking those were actual children. So creepy. It reminded me of the horror movie “The boy”. You can be sure I actually sprinted away from there.

I could actually tell I’m climbing higher as the fog was getting thicker. There were other people around as I could hear them but not really see.

The path also got a little bit steeper. I hiked in fog before but not with a snow at the same time.

I should have taken a selfie when I smelled food as I approached the restaurant. Pure bliss:)

Berggasthaus auf dem olberg it’s a very nice restaurant with an outdoor terrace. Sadly I won’t ever be back there. Why? After having a hot chocolate and a delicious meal I proceeded to pay when it turned out my visa has been blocked. And I had no money on me nor any other card… never happened to me before so I didn’t know if I will have to wash dishes or sleep with the owner? (Joke!).

It was really humiliating experience since they probably thought I’m a tourist trying to scam them. And the guests had a free entertainment since everyone was now waiting what will happen…

How I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. Or for the Slenderman to come and get me!

What happened instead is they took copy of my ID and gave me the bank details on where to send the money.

I had no choice but to hike my way back to the hotel and phone the bank.

I was really grateful for the fog and snow and barely any people around when I let out my outburst once back on the trail. I was angry, ashamed and frustrated! Argh!! All thanks to the courtesy of NatWest!!

There was no way I could make it to the light display at Drachenburg Castle. It will have to wait till next time.

I was surprised at how busy the park got in the afternoon. Everywhere were families with kids sledging. So much fun. Someone even made a little igloo:)

The path now was mainly downhill and I needed some sort of support. As always nature provides:

Found one magnificent stick. I even got complimented on it:)

The closer to the town the less snow in sight. And more mud.

Luckily the most muddy part of the trail had a special wooden track:

Nice touch!

And this hut made me feel so special. Like it was made just for me:)

Even tho it was getting dark quick whilst I was still in the forest, I wasn’t scared or anything. I always carry a flashlight and powerbank.

I think it’s fair to say at this point that Germany has some of the finest forests in Europe. Totally recommend this route.

The Siebengebirge Park Part 1

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”Anthony Bourdain

I love snow and I’m always looking forward to it in the winter despite the fact that I live in uk, and anything more than a feet of snow changes the country into a post war zone.

The night before my flight the weather blessed us with that magical white fluff and oh boy. I wasn’t too worried about the flight because I was sure they will keep the tarmac at the airport in good condition but uk roads? Now that’s a different story.

I always leave a bit of extra time when travelling to the airport as I believe “better safe than sorry”. The road in front of my house was covered in snow and I knew the taxi will get stuck there so I called the company and changed the location. That meant I now had to leave the house even earlier and walk in the middle of the night to a main road. Oh well….anything in the name of travel:)

Surprisingly journey to the airport took only about 10mins longer than normally with National express. Not too bad. However weather in Cologne was much worse and my flight was delayed by 3 hours. At this point I was contemplating going back to bed and just claim my money back. The traveller’s soul won tho. And I was rewarded for my patience:

And empty row to myself always feels like a jackpot! Normally I would try to lie across all three seats and catch some sleep but the flight was only an hour.

Snow! How exciting!

The journey from Cologne airport took 35 mins by intercity. Located about 65km from Cologne this place with 14 nature parks is a paradise for any nature lover.

Because now I had 3 hrs less to explore and I only slept like 2.5hrs I knew I will have to compromise.

This is the route I did:

ASBERGER SEE

The first part of the trail starts at the end of Auf der Helte road.

In Germany the trail will quite often be marked on trees and will either have a symbol or letters.

Here additional info was placed on special rocks:

Occasionally there will also be a signpost:

But that’s only when you come to a crossroads. Also there will be huts or boards with a location number so if you have to call an emergency number, it will be easier for them to locate you.

Why isn’t that a standard procedure everywhere on a trail??

Most of the walk leads through a beautiful forest:

Even tho I was constantly climbing, the walk wasn’t too challenging. It was only on the way back that I get to see my elevation.

I yet to learn to recognise wild animal footprints except for the basic deer one.

I was praying this was just a very big dog…🤭 I couldn’t find many information about what kind of animals occupy those beautiful forests and I didn’t see any warnings either. Apparently there are some wild cats 😲

I only saw woodpeckers, red squirrel and an owl.

One the way I came across lots of small rangers huts. Most of them were locked up but I found one that was open.

Of course I climbed the tiny ladder and had a peak inside.

I absolutely loved the fact that some kind and loving soul left a pack of hand warmers in there.

The Asberger See looks more like a like lake tbh. As you can guess it was frozen and I made it a little bit too late during the day and the sun was already too low.

Now I want to visit this place in every season just to see which one makes it more beautiful:)

I stumbled onto the most beautiful forest too. Just by looking at that pic you can guess what destination is on my bucket list:

I totally recommend you will pass through a suburb called Breite Heide. Some of the houses there are just spectacular.

The last part of this trail lead me to a place called Koppel. It was a view point marked by a big metallic cross:

And from there you can see a stunning view of Bad Honnef.

Bad Honnef it’s a small spa town with tiny roads and an old fashioned buildings that will make you think you just travelled in time.

I didn’t have my hiking poles with me which I regretted constantly. It was mostly due to the mud and slush rather than the terrain tho.

I was super hungry after the hike and in my search for a good place to eat I stumbled upon this restaurant:

I can totally recommend it. The food was cheap and delicious and the service fantastic!