Where to next…

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We have been back for 6 months (already!) and this is the first time, I am sitting down with an urge to write and share my thoughts. While checking my last post about Plitvice in Croatia, I couldn’t believe so much time has passed since my last traveling story. Coming home was, the least to say, challenging and crazy. Our timing to come home was perfect, we thought. We came back just on time for winter, we thought. I was so excited to go up the Swiss mountains I had missed so much: my traveling backpack was hastily put away in the basement, swiftly replaced by my snowshoes. We were ready. But winter decided to delay its arrival and we waited, waited for snow to arrive. Even tho we had a non-white Christmas *dislike* and no time in the mountains, we were constantly busy: between job interviews, weekends spent with friends and family and settling back into the civilized routine, we didn’t see November, December, January nor February go by. 

Being back home has been great: we both found a job we like, M finally moved to Luzern (he did survive my M&MS on the road: Moods, Mess and Sarcasm so we thought why not live together) and after a few months of focusing on our new jobs, it felt natural to ask each other our favorite question: where to next… I started traveling in 2005 and back in the days, this question would have been answered in the blink of an eye. Anywhere really I would have said?! Nowadays, this is a complete different story! Sharing my life with another passionate traveler has definitely made this question harder to answer! Namibia? Sorry done that! Myanmar? Oh right, you went there already! ? China? Yeah yeah yeah, let me guess, this country belongs to the long list of the countries you explored without me. Sigh. 

Who would have thought picking a destination we both want to explore would be that hard? Especially since we are looking for a destination which is “friendly” in December (read: it must be warm) and possibly not that touristy. This, my friends, frantically shortens our options. After months of research and discussions, we have found a common continent we are really keen to discover: Africa! Namibia, Malawi, Botswana,  Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa are off the table as either of one us has been to those gorgeous counties already but we finally came up with our Top 5 for 2017: Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Liberia. Have you been to one of those countries? Any cool itinerary for a 3-week backpacking exploration you are dying to share with us? 

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem! 

T for thankful 

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Since one of our friends told us that Cahuita National Park was a MUST, we couldn’t miss it! We were of course still wary of such recommendations after Manuel Antonio but according to her, this was her favorite park because 1) its wildlife was sensational 2) the entrance fee was on a donation basis. Say whaaaat? After bitching for two weeks that Costa Rica was ridiculously expensive, I couldn’t not go to the only park that was affordable! To Cahuita! After an easy bus ride, we found a comfortable and affordable double room (private? Yes sure. Why not) and we couldn’t wait for the next day to explore the park. My wish was to spot snakes. Don’t get me wrong, it has been fantastic to see sloths, monkeys, crocodiles but snakes were missing. They scare (the sh** out of) me as much as they fascinate me but my fear couldn’t stop me. I needed an encounter with the yellow eyelash viper I had seen on an Instagram account I have been following. 

We set off early to increase our chances to spot snakes, one can hope! When we entered the park, we asked the staff how easy it was for us to find snakes and she looked uncertain and answered ‘it can happen’. Hmmm not very useful. However a young man, who had heard us enquiring about snakes, asked us to follow him. He showed us a small tree where a beautiful little viper was curled up. My first yellow eyelash viper! I was so excited. I probably took a zillion pics; she was simply gorgeous. He told us that the day before he spotted 12 of them in the park, we simply had to look around so we felt pretty hopeful. We walked very (very very) slowly, checking trees and bushes next to the trail but we had no luck. I was a bit disappointed as I knew they were around, we were simply missing them. We saw so many beautiful spiders, iguanas, squirrels, monkeys and grasshoppers, my disappointment was soon forgotten. Suddenly M pointed up and this was how we started to spot more and more yellow vipers! Who would have thought they were actually on tree trunks (I expected them to be on branches!). They were pretty thin but long and very scarily fascinating. We walked the 8km trail without seeing many people and instead of taking the bus back, we decided to walk back the same trail as it was gorgeous and peaceful and hoping to spot more snakes. We were rewarded with more vipers (one of the floor might have made me a scare!), a raccoon and a coati. Happy! 

With this wonderful stop in Cahuita we were thankful for, our Costa Rican adventure was coming to an end and we were ready to discover the last remaining country in Central America: Panama. Next stop: Bocas Del Toro

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!

Q for quite an adventure 

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Three enthusiastic friends, a rental car, 12 days and a whole new country to explore… What could possibly go wrong? Fast forward 600 kilometers, and we now know that a road trip in Costa Rica (or CR for cool kids) during the rainy season is a risky adventure. We have gambled and lost, facing some epic consequences but we mostly won a priceless realization: by surviving this road trip together, we know that our friendship can resist anything! But let’s start from the beginning, shall we? 

We welcomed our friend S. at the airport in Liberia and picked up our rental car, keen to hit the road. We somehow had a very romantic projection of the rainy season. What? We cannot be the only ones who imagined puddles splashing around as we are driving through, right?! Our first stop was La Fortuna where we found a decent hostel. We sat down around a meal to discuss our program for the next 12 days and luckily, we all wanted to see as many places as possible, go on a few hikes and spot some wildlife. Our first hike to Cerro Chato was beautiful and pretty easy, even though it was steep. M decided to run up (#^*£!|¥!! Show off) while S and I took it easy. The view on the Arenal volcano was rewarding when we reached the top! The lagoon had a beautiful green color and would the path have been less slippery, we would have considered going down for a dip. Instead we sat down, chilling while M (this guy again #]^{*}*}£!) literally ran down and back up again. What a show off! Our walk down turned into a challenging journey, trying to stay on our two feet. The rain took us by surprise and before we knew it, we were experiencing the rainy season in all its splendor. Within a minute, we were soaked, laughing and hoping that none of us would fall, kissing the muddy floor. After an hour of a heavy downpour, it stopped. We kept walking down at a small pace as our path had become a giant mud slide. We were all chatty and happy when M pushed me back and I heard him shriek. Right in front of us was a beautiful but scary snake; it was only passing by but the panic was so strong, I took a step back, almost losing my balance. Luckily S stopped me from falling on my butt (again) and I miraculously remained onto my two feet! 

The next day was bright and shiny (yeah) and we drove to Santa Elena. This was supposed to be less touristy than Monteverde and we were very keen to avoid the tourist mass. However the weather in Santa Elena didn’t play along and it rained for a whole day straight, literally washing our (at least mine) hiking plan away. We waited patiently for a sunny break but it never came. The rain only slowed down so we drove to Monteverde, hoping that the rain would have in the meantime stopped. One can dream, right? Unfortunately Petrus decided differently and with a 20$ entrance fee, I refused to hike in the heavy rain. My two companions, proud owners of a student ID, were offered a 50% discount and set off to hike the park trails while I treated myself to a hot chocolate, a brownie and a date with hummingbirds. I was very grateful to be alone because I was feeling very homesick and needed some time on my own. But hey nothing that a what’s app session with your best friends, Spotify, a hot chocolate and a brownie can’t fix. M and S were not really impressed by the park and I guess once you have seen a cloud forest, you have seen them all. 

Our drive to Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast, where we would overnight, went well. We were excited to start our drive down along the ocean road as we were promised dirt roads, river crossings and adventures. What’s not to love about this?! M, my copilot and I had a lot of time to debate about left and right turns (apparently it’s all about interpretation) while driving to Samara. The dirt roads were challenging and I loved it. It was good fun to drive our 4-wheel car onto that road while being surrounded by astonishing landscapes… until the first river crossing. My heart dropped. It was the biggest river I had ever contemplated crossing. Yes, ok, also the first one. My heart started to race when we realized that there was no way for us to tell how deep the river Crucivallejo was. We looked at each other, anxious and worried but not wanting to be the first one to say out loud that turning around would be a better idea. We had noticed a man sleeping on his tractor up the road so we decided to seek the guidance of a local. He was pretty convinced that we could easily cross the river. It was only (ONLY?!) 60 cm deep. Our confidence was shaken and as much as we wanted to trust this helpful man, we were ready to run tail between our legs back to some more civilized roads. He laughed with his friends, clearly not understanding our hesitation and offered to cross the river with his tractor before us. Ah bless him! We followed him back to the river and still unsure, we looked at him, driving through the river. M and S were not ready to cross but while they were debating, I pressed the gas pedal hard. I had solely and spontaneously (hoping I wouldn’t regret it) decided that we could make it. I was so relieved when we reached the other side, my hands shaking from the adrenalin rush. My two companions looked baffled, barely believing we had crossed our first river and we started to shout all at once with excitement. 

We were still feeling the adrenaline rush when we arrived in Samara and since we were feeling quite cocky from this experience (what to say), we decided to keep driving to reach Mal Pais before nightfall. One local advised us against it, warning us about river crossings and dirt roads. Come on, man, this was the kind of thrill we were after. After all we had tamed Crucivallejo. Nothing could stop us… (We thought). Another local told us that we should drive the coastal road as it was extremely beautiful and assured us that we would be just fine. Say no more! We jumped back in our car and happily left the main road to follow the narrow dirt road that would take us to Mal Pais. We crossed 5 more rivers and 20 kilometers before arriving in Mal Pais, one final river was ‘flowing’ in our way. We drove the dirt road, the sun going down much faster than we would have liked it and suddenly I had to stand on my brake. Where the road was supposed to be was a river instead. We were shocked as we didn’t expect it to be so far out. By now there was no way for us to find the road on the other side and M couldn’t walk in the river to find out how deep it was as the current was too strong. We had to accept it: we were stuck between two rivers for the night. 

I was somehow ok with the fact that we couldn’t cross the river, there is no adventure without adventure but I started to panic when my companions mentioned that we should knock on the door of the only house around us. I blame it on the too many horror movies I have watched over the years and the thought of Wolf Creek didn’t help me to relax. I was so terrified, I refused to leave the locked car, feeling virtually safe and I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in the tent that this (welcoming) family was willing to set up for us. You might be laughing but at the time, I felt spooked. It was dark (oh urban lights how I missed you) and a storm was lurking. I couldn’t stop thinking of what this man (who by the way totally looked like a serial killer) could do to us. We would disappear without anybody ever knowing where we were. There was some camping equipment that was laying on the floor and my mind wandered. Was it from the previous backpackers he killed before feeding them to his pigs? Oh yeah, I never hated my fertile imagination that much than during that terrifying night. The fear and the pig screams (do they ever sleep?!) kept me awake most of the night and I was relieved to be alive and see the first lights of the day. 

Of course, as soon as the sun came up, I realized how silly my thoughts had been and how irrational I must have sounded so I promised myself to stop watching horror movies. The camping equipment I had spotted during the night was actually some random kids’ toys and the farmer didn’t quite look like a serial killer but like a generous welcoming one. He even drove with us to the river to make sure we were successfully crossing the river. It was incredible to see the difference between the night before: the river had dramatically decreased. It was still tricky to cross as I had to drive straight across and then 30 meters in the water to the left. Without the help of this man, it would have been difficult to know what to do. We covered the last 20 km rather quickly and decided to go to Montezuma instead for a comforting breakfast and a quick hike to a waterfall before heading to the ferry to Puntarenas. The ferry ride was relaxing and we were lucky enough to have sun and blue skies. Adios Nicoya peninsula!

We still have 6 days to explore CR so let’s make those count and possibly in a less dramatic manner! Next stop: Manuel Antonio National Park!

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!

I for incredible Honduras

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When we told our friends and families that we would be traveling through Honduras, many of them were not impressed so let’s start with a fact, shall we? Honduras, as a whole, is NOT dangerous.

Au contraire! We discovered a beautiful peaceful country where people were incredibly friendly and helpful, landscapes were incredibly beautiful and food was incredibly addictive (see my shameless post on baleadas). I won’t deny that some parts of the country still have issues with some idiots who are on a power trip (gangs known as maras, what else…). Would you however stop traveling to the USA because of their 33’000 gangs? Would you refuse to travel to China because of the triads? Would you postpone a trip to Italy because of their Mafiosi? Didn’t think so. So why should we let the maras keep the travelers away from such an incredible place? Spread the world fellow travelers, a gem is waiting to be discovered. 

M & I fell in love with it and our 10 days exploring Honduras were wonderful. Everything felt right, adventurous and exciting and we are leaving Honduras with a heavy heart. Since we were not interested in diving and we knew that we would have plenty of beach time in El Salvador, we decided to skip the northern coast and the bay islands. The untouched East (la Mosquitia) was really really tempting but the time needed to reach it was a deal breaker as we still have plenty of places to explore before mid of August. We therefore preferred to focus on three places in the west: Copán, Lago de Yojoa and Gracias. 

If like us, you only have 10 days in Honduras, here is our itinerary: 

  • Day 1 / Copán: lovely town – imagine our surprise when our bus didn’t get attacked by banditos, we didn’t get robbed nor murdered and it was safe to walk at night without a police officer. Our hostel, Berakah, was perfectly located to explore Copán and its ruins. Its kitchen was nice to cook our meals. We ended up cooking for 8 people as some other travelers were happy to join our homemade dinner. This was the first time on the road that I felt surrounded by friends and it made me very happy. Believe it or not, hostel life can be pretty lonely, especially when you travel with your better half. People tend to assume we want to keep for ourselves. The fantastic backpackers we met in Copán definitely made a difference 
  • Day 2 / Copán ruins: They were not massively impressive but our visit with Fidel, our guide, turned out to be fun and it was an interesting way to keep ourselves busy for a few hours surrounded by flying macaws 
  • Day 3 / Macaw bird sanctuary: This was my highlight in Copán. Our hostel was within walking distance (MY walking distance. I wouldn’t trust M’s walking distance as he uses the term walking distance way too often for 5 to 6 km distances. Nutter!). So it was an easy stroll to the park. It was a real honor to meet such dedicated people who are passionate about rescuing birds, breeding and releasing new borns into the wild and educating the local populations.
  • Day 4 / Lago de Yojoa: some chilling (eating) time in Los Naranjos where our hostel, D&D brewery, was located. It was very nice thanks to their friendly staff and comfortable dorms 
  • Day 5 / Puhlapanzak falls: this beautiful waterfall is 65 meter high and is easily reached by public bus from Los Naranjos. Pack your bathing suit as you can swim in the pond above the falls. You can even hide a guide to walk behind the falls. Well you can imagine that our budget didn’t quite allow us to do it but the idea is fantastic 
  • Day 5 / Los Naranjos Ecological and archeological park: The park has 6 km of trails that wind through the forest over hanging bridges and on a boardwalk, ideal to spot the local wildlife. Pack your repellent, the fcukers are very active over there!
  • Days 6 & 7 / El Dorado: we really enjoyed our homestay there with our Honduran family during a two-day. Cute family, very interesting dad (he knew so much about the local fauna and flora), a wonderful host mom who showed us how to prepare some tortillas and two sweet daughters. We felt like we were part of the family. Thanks Dennis and Nell! Thanks to the other villagers who welcomed us for dinner as well 
  • Day 6 / Cave del Cante: during our homestay, we had the possibility to explore the surroundings and caving over there was… well definitely an adventure! We first had to find the entrance! Yes, people are going to the cave THAT often. When we thought our bus rides were scary, try going down a dark cave (the only light being the one on your head) with a broken ladder, slippery rocks, hundred of bats flying around and lurking giant spiders. This should give you some goose bumps! Not for the faint-hearted! 
  • Day 7 / hiking and birdwatching in Santa Barbara mountain: an easy hike that took us through some coffee plantations and cloud forest. We were blessed enough to spot a Quetzal and two toucans! 
  • Day 8 / Cerro Azul-Meámbar NP (known as Panacam): we really enjoyed the Sinai trail as we were granted the presence of a deadly but majestic viper on our trail, the view was panoramic and some natural pools were waiting for us. What else does a happy hiker need?
  • Days 9 & 10 / Gracias: this quiet colonial town with hot springs and a renovated fort that used to protect the town was a perfect place to get ready for our next destination. We especially loved the street food stalls on the Parque Central at night 

We really hope that you felt our enthusiasm and feel like jumping on the next plane to Honduras. One of my friends, in love with Honduras, has founded his own company to promote this incredible country and if you would feel more comfortable with a tour, do not hesitate to get in touch with Markus! He is amazing and passionate and could surely help you to plan your perfect Honduran trip! 

Next stop: El Salavdor! 


Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!

What I wish I would have known before backpacking Central America… 

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… Not that it would have changed a thing but come on, a fair warning is always nice. After four weeks of traveling (happy surviving anniversary to me), the glamorous part of backpacking has worn off  (if there was any to begin with) and my brain has finally accepted that I was not on holidays (no shit Sherlock). For the first three weeks, it probably expected me to be back at work anytime after the usual three weeks off. Think again, buddy! So the fourth week was quite tough when it realized “oh shit, I’m (lowering my voice) unemployed and this is going to be my life for the next 5 months”. My heart and brain being fully committed to this challenging trip will definitely help with our freaking budget (about time, woman!). 

While chilling in wonderful (and safe!) Honduras, I’m reflecting on what I have learned so far over the past month. Nah I won’t bore you with how this trip has taught me amazing lessons (but don’t you worry, this is coming your way). It surely did but for now, I’m ready to go over the funny (to not so funny) traveling surprises that blogs tend to forget to advertise. Here are my top 10 what you wish I would have known before going backpacking Central America: 

  1. Your clothes will smell. Whatever you do nothing but a hostel with a cheap laundry service will save you from THE smell. Best service EVER
  2. Hot showers and washing your hair will be become a luxury (say whaaaat?!). I can handle dirty hair. Isn’t it what a dirty bun is about? But cold water? Baaaaaaaaaah! 
  3. You will most likely start all your sentences with “I have got no money but I have got time” if you need to get the cheapest option. Counting on sympathy of the locals, maybe? Who needs anyway to cover 60 kilometers in 2 hours when you can do it in 5 hours with 3 stops?! 
  4. Your backpack will get heavier by the week. No matter what. Unless you start leaving stuff behind you. Just pack at the very last minute and you should be lighter of a few pieces of clothing, guaranteed! 
  5. You will say no a lot (lot, lot, lot) when you mean yes, please! For instance: “guys, you want to join us for the happy hours?!”. Who would f*** refuse a happy hour? Oh yeah,?two backpackers on a frigging 30 US$ a day budget. 
  6. You will have less to no privacy with your better half for days, even weeks. With smelly clothes, dirty hair and a f*** annoying 30 US$ per day budget, I guess privacy is anyway the least of your worries. Ahh priorities! 
  7. Western junk food (that you wouldn’t even necessarily eat at home like pizzas, burgers and fries) will smell divine and try to tempt you. Not sure where this is coming from as I have been enjoying the local dishes cooked on the side of the road. Go figure! 
  8. You will feel jealousy towards those female backpackers, who don’t seem affected by the hours spent on a chicken bus nor by the heat. I mean really?! Please beautiful (not smelly) ladies, give us a break. Why don’t you pretend to suffer as well from what I called a fashion hecatomb?
  9. You will cry a lot more than you do at home. Yes, tough guys, crying behind closed doors does count! It seems that emotions are multiplied by 100 and what would not bother you at home starts the Iguazu falls. Ladies, imagine you are on your periods 24/7… Pretty emotional, huh? Guys, imagine your girlfriend has ruined your car again and again, pretty irritating. Wanna cry, yet? 
  10. And last but not least, you will feel homesick. I beg your pardon?! What? How can you miss home when you are experiencing so many amazing things?! Meeting great people along the way? Well, it happens and I’m grateful for iMessage, Facebook and what’s app. Not a social media addict but definitely a person who left wonderful friends at home! 

I must be insane but what put me off at first keeps me going. Challenging myself on a daily basis, supported by M, is somehow rewarding and after listing those points, I can’t tell you they aren’t so bad. I am even smiling and laughing writing this post. You get used to the smell (kinda) and learning to say no is not that bad after all (your liver and your wallet are grateful). Backpacking is not easy but for every day spent on the road, meeting locals, learning to be humble, eating street food and feeling free for the first time in years, I’m grateful. 

Watch that space for a post, starting with I for incredible, on beautiful Honduras and in the meantime, some snapshots, enjoy!

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem! 

H for high and happy 

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Out of breathe (who wouldn’t with a frigging tent, a yoga mat, a sleeping bag, enough food / water and warm clothes on the back to survive an overnight at 3’700 meters?) and slightly dizzy (It was the first time that my body was affected by the altitude. It isn’t a mountain legend after all!), I stopped, my heart pounding. While my eyes were trying to find out where the (impressively) loud sound was coming from, our guide pointed to an invisible presence. “El Fuego” he whispered with a big smile. Hiding behind a cloud or two, El Fuego seemed to congratulate us for having almost made it to our camp (as if he knew that some of us had considered turning back at some point). We couldn’t see it just yet but every step that was taking us closer to our camp on this very steep trail was celebrated with a loud roar. After strenuously hiking up for 5 hours, we happily discovered our campsite: a flat bit right on the path, big enough to welcome three tents with an incredible view. We couldn’t have wished for a better night to witness El Fuego’s tantrum. Our fantastic group (4 Australians, 1 German and two lovely guides) sat under a sky full of stars around a camp fire, grilling marshmallows, getting thrilled by any burst of lava. Even though I didn’t make it to the sunrise point of view, I was grateful, feeling blessed and emotionally touched by the beauty of the eruption. My body simply refused to hike up 200 more meters (well done to my comrades who braved the wind and conquered the summit at 5 in the morning). It had had enough and since this trip has taught me to listen to my body, I, at last, accepted that I wouldn’t reach the summit. I nicely waited for my group to enthusiastically come back to our campsite and after a banana breakfast we started to hike down, feeling happily fulfilled. This was one of the happiest (and challenging) moments in my life. Even though I struggled to hike up this steep and unsteady trail, I was happy. High and happy! 

After so much emotion at 3’700 meters, I was happy to have a few easy days ahead of us. M was waiting for me (he already conquered the summit in January in one day! I was even prouder of him!) at his former host mom who was a lovely Guatemalan woman. It was wonderful to settle down for a while and I finally slept through the night for the first time in weeks (bliss!). Sleeping in hostel dorms has been nicely cheap but certainly not restful for me. Every night I have mostly gone to sleep thinking ‘what if somebody tries to rob me?’, ‘are my passport and my cash safely hidden?’ or ‘what if M’s bunk bed falls on me?’. Yes first world problems! So when we finally had our very own room with a lock in a house with a family we trusted, my brain switched off! I loved our stay in Antigua, which is a beautiful town with cobblestone streets, its inhabitants warm and smiling. I felt like I had found a home away from home. It almost seemed difficult to believe that Guatemala City became the capital city because Antigua has become too ‘naturally’ dangerous. The government couldn’t take the moody volcanoes, floods and recurrent earthquakes anymore and even though Antigua lost its First Lady status, it is definitely worth a visit. Its ruins and colonial vibe are charming. 

With our belongings safe in Antigua, we traveled light (thank god) to lake Atitlan. I won’t go on and on about how the ride itself was an adventure because it would be old news but we liked out two-day trip to San Pedro and San Marcos, two villages on the lake. We didn’t realize that San Pedro was a party town so a night was enough for us and we actually realized while strolling in San Marcos that we would have preferred to find a place there. It had a ‘Je ne sais quoi’. Oh well, as they say, live and learn. Lake Atitlan reminded us of sunny Italy (while looking at the lake from a terrace) and we had a lovely time, discovering the two villages, greeting the locals. I felt however uncomfortable and to some extent angry, as I was reading a note from the locals. They were asking the foreigners (many hippies in the area) to stop smoking drugs in public as the local youth was being misguided. I felt heartbroken. I will never understand how people can think it is ok to come to a country and disrespect locals’ believes and values. Those people make backpacking more difficult for us as we are all seen as gringos and locals very often see us as a threat. It takes a lot of time and energy to show the locals that we care about their cultures and values. And for every smile we receive and mind we change through patience and respect, I am grateful. 

Guatemala, you have been wonderfully welcoming and generous but it is time for us to make our way to Honduras. Let’s see if this country is as dangerous as it is believed to be. Next stop: Copán. 

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!

My traveling alphabet or how to play the ABC game on a backpacking trip…

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With the imminent lift-off and the scary but exhilarating realization that our adventure is happening for real (ahhhhhhhhh *holy moly sound*), my wanderlust has become really impatient and loud. This is quite annoying as I still need to focus on work for one more day so I almost want to tell her to f** off. Leave me alone, wanderlust! Instead, I have checked my countdown ten thousand times and I can tell you that this is not making the time go by faster (no shit Sherlock). My feet are fidgety (so fidgety I have considered applying for a job in at Riverdance. Why not?) and I can barely wait for Friday (understatement? Check!). Realization does however not mean that I can believe that only two sleeps are left until I finally hit the road. I’m having a hard time to believe that I only have 1 day, 13 hour and 01 minute before the start of this incredible 6-month adventure. But one thing is sure: I am so excited and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it (The Pointer Sisters would understand how I feel). 

Excitement has now invaded every cell of my body and I cannot wait to be able to do what I love : travel, take pictures (tomorrow I can pick up my new lense! Whoop whoop) and write about traveling. My traveling stories are as important as the pictures I take along the way, as important as the memories I’m making and as important as the people I’m meeting. This is probably the closest I can get to happiness, well at least my definition of happiness. After all, what is the happiest moment for a story teller? When he / she has a story to tell. And what is the happiest moment for a traveler? When he / she gets to be in the road! Bliss! Lucky me, I get to do both soon, very soon. I have somehow decided to tell my Central American stories following the alphabet. Because why not…

My wanderlust and sense of adventure are more than ready to hit the road and I cannot wait to share my traveling so watch that space!

Quick update on packing: it still hasn’t happened. What. A. Surprise. For my defense I got to go to a Macklemore and R. Lewis’ concert, have a delicious dinner with my future ex boss and have a farewell evening with my three monkeys and besties. 

Packing 0 – fun times 3

 Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!

Every day, a new “last”…

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… I guess this is the price to pay for following my heart and being on a tight schedule to get ready for this exciting project. Still a million things to do! How come every time I tick one off, another one mysteriously appears?!

March has started ‘sur les chapeaux de roues‘ and it seems that this month is going to be dedicated to “lasts”. Yes, I have known all along that March would come down to this, but my brain had somehow refused to process this information. What can I say? I only focused on the trip itself. Now there is (luckily) no turning back and March 25th will be here before I even know it… And I am sure I won’t be ready. Hey! Don’t judge me… I said I would try to list all the things I needed to do (how sensible and responsible!), but I never said I would do them in timely manner! (I recently learnt the meaning of being pedantic, how apropos). Nah… Instead, I’m pretty sure the week after next will be mental and I’ll hear a lot of ‘but why didn’t you take care of this earlier?’. Don’t you love those comments… But before someone says it, I need to have a few more of those ‘lasts’. 

To be fair, most of them are only ‘last until next time’, but I still feel emotional (read: very emotional, borderline irrational). I guess the FOMO is kicking in, so to counter its effect, I’m having my last catch ups over lunch, last gossip sessions, last dinners and I even found time to fit in a last snowshoe hiking weekend. We jumped in our sweet ride (generously loaned by a lovely friend!) and headed to Valais. We literally chased the sun all the way from grey Luzern and found it in abundance in Ernen where we decided to hike the Chäserstatt trail

Quick facts:

  • Difficulty level: red
  • Distance: 4.4 km
  • Walking time: 3 hours
  • Happy snowshoers: 2 (group could have been easily bigger)
  • Bonus point: amazing scenery

While socially, my ‘lasts’ seem pretty fun and easy, work is definitely harder. I’m realizing that this is really the last lunch at our favorite Chinese, the last logistics meeting I’ll attend, the last pilates class with my favorite teacher, the last dinner with business partners… It seems so surreal to say goodbye after 7.5 years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to go on this amazing journey with M, but it’s just hard to accept that I actually resigned from a job I really enjoy. That said, it’s 12 days, 13 hours and 42 minutes until A&M hit the road and I’m getting pretty fidgety! 

But first and foremost, another snowshoe hike in Valais tomorrow (we’ll hike the Natura trail and I cant wait), and then a few (understatement of the week) more chores to tick off! 

 Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!

Australian adventures, volume # 2: Victoria 

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First of all, truth must be said and I am hoping to be forgiven by that state: we unfortunately didn’t have much time to discover it properly. Phew, glad this is out! My first (and only so far) impression is therefore based on 24 hours spent in Melbourne. While my companions prefered to either drive the great ocean road or celebrate Christmas with their families, I opted for an exploration day and a night in Melbourne.

You can usually rate a city you visit the following way:

– Thanks but no thanks
– It was nice but I’m glad to say goodbye
– I could totally live here!

I can tell you this: Melbs definitely belongs to the latter. People were friendly and welcoming from the moment I looked like a lost tourist and I fell for this city!

What was supposed to be an easy ride to our hostel turned into a small adventure. On this Christmas day, there was no direct shuttle to our hostel (Habitat HQ in St Kilda – highly recommend it) but the hostel didn’t seem to be aware of this so I waited and waited and waited. After all, I was not in Switzerland anymore so buses CAN be late *sigh* and I was in no rush. A friendly local asked me if I was aware that there was no service. Yeah of course I knew it, I was just erm… suntanning?! Oops!

Thanks to my lovely M, I however had a plan B: Jump on a skybus (AUS 18) to CBD. From there I only had to catch a tram. Sounds easy and straightforward for a seasoned traveler, right?! Let’s rewind then… I reached the CBD. First step completed. Pat on my shoulder. But I somehow didn’t manage step # 2. I found a way to sit on the right tram, good on me but realized that I had been driving to the complete opposite direction after 20 minutes. Seriously? Yep, I did it even though I visited 42 countries, rode a few trains and trams in many languages and even with the help of another very friendly local.

On the plus side, tram was free (thanks Melbourne for this Christmas gift), I got to see the Melbourne university and I discovered a lovely sushi place for a late lunch. For any traveler who would only have a few hours in this beautiful town, here are my highlights in Melbourne:

  • Bourne street: many shops. Very lively and pretty central. Many trams stop there so very easy to reach
  • City square with its town hall and its Christmassy atmosphere
  • Shrine of remembrance: since it seems that on that day, I was somehow unable to get off at the right stop so I walked and discovered this beautiful monument.

  • Federation center Flinders. Perfect fusion between old and new buildings and a great spot to get a sunset picture! 

    Thanks Melbourne for showing me a great time and making my Christmas Day pretty special. Next stop: Tasmania.

    Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!