the expedition to terra nova

A new beginning so it seemed. A place full of hidden treasures was calling me to reveal its beautiful secrets. Excited and nervous at the same time about what the following 72h would bring me, I jumped into my next adventure and stepped on the plane towards unknown.

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At arrival I chose an Uber to be the best option as it was already past 10pm and the owner of my rental apartment was waiting for me for the handover of the keys. Dimas, the driver did not spare the effort to wait and look for me while I was lost on the parking of the airport. Not only that, but he even insisted on carrying my luggage and walked me to the doorsteps of my apartment, promising he would work on his English as the body language workout we just went through made us sweat more than we wanted. I couldn’t wish more than that and that was just the kick off.

The apartment CASA ESPERA was located in Bairro Alto, the heart of the city, from where you can easily walk to every part of town with the waterfront just a few hundred meters away. Checking into Casa Espera was a little adventure by itself. IMG_1599The steep narrow staircase to the 3rd floor left little room for luggage and carrier, however, is worth every single step as it is the entrance to a little comfortable kingdom. The apartment was decorated with an eye for detail and a touch of vintage, leaving alone the eye catcher of music player in the living room. Satisfied with my choice of accommodation I stripped off my travel jumper, put on my adventure outfit and headed out to seize the night.

It started with a Mojito shared with another couch surfing soul in a bar called SPOT. As we both weren’t fond of the karaoke show the bar delivered we moved to Park Bar, a dazzling place on the roof of a parking garage. The place was packed with people from all over the world. We quickly mingled with some locals, teamed up with a tourist group of five Dutch ladies and two expats from Columbia/France and formed a party group with endless positive vibes. The night was young and we had our dance shoes on. So we continued the party at LUX, a well-known club at the Tagus riverside, danced the night away as light as feathers and welcomed the sunset with the hands high up in the air.

 

Riiight…The next day started rather slow.
Tram28 was on the menu for the afternoon. 1.5 hours under the burning heat of beautiful 31° C welded together my newly found connection with two German ladies. They, too, were on a treasure hunt, sensing that we were on the right track to something big. I understood why people preached to head to Marnim Moniz Square to enter the tram at its point of departure. Not only for the sake of the hangover cure the window seat was worth the wait. Standing all along on the 1h tramride holding on to some battered grab rails wasn’t exactly on my to do list, and God forbid, should the photos have turned out poorly. We tingled along amazing neighboorhoods such as Graca, Baixa, Estrela and Alfama which were filled with many tiny cosy stores offering everything your heart could desire. It was great!

 

That much that I decided to take the same line back, however, made my plan without checking the tram route and eventually ended up seeing other photogenic parts of the city.

After a little siesta I grabbed a real late night dinner at Taberna Portuguesa. Their staff was super courteous and the food to die for. I ordered the bread covered with chicken sausage, smoked ham, tomato and roasted cheese which blew me away and decided to eliminate the dessert at the Mirador Santa Lucia. With my thoughts dipping deeply into every bite of that heaven of chocolate cake I almost missed out on the enchanted encounter with Haio, but only almost.

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He gave me a private city tour throughout the entire night. Stops worth to mention are certainly the Praca de Comercio with the Arco da Rua Augusta at its side, the Elevador de Santa Justa made out of iron that connects the lower streets of quarter Baixa with Chiado and Praca de Figueira. One of my favorites was to pass Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo which was hustling at daytime, given the fact that it is most likely the most photographed street of the city, and so incredibly peaceful at night. In my opinion the best way to get a closer look at the iconic funicular which carries passengers all day up and down.

 

My third day I entirely dedicated to Sintra, an official UNESCO World Heritage site and heavenly place with majestic palaces, castles and blooming estates from medieval times. The train ride took no longer than 40 minutes and departed at station Rossio. First I felt like being brave and walk all the way up to the National Palace de Pena, but luckily due to lack of time I changed my mind and did not regret to do so. It turned out to be a very steep and curvy way up and would have taken me certainly 1,5 hours to climb up those monstrous winding roads.

 

Arriving up there, the bright colors of the palace were reflecting and shining in all their glory making me wonder how a princess’ life back then would have looked like. Oh boy, and the view from up there was just priceless so there’s no other way than to go and check it out with your own eyes.

 

After soaking up a fair portion of sun on the Triton Terrace of the palace and feeling like a queen, I moved on to Quinta de Regaleira, a romantic park complex with fountains, lakes, grottoes and a palace. My personal highlight here was the Unfinished Well, the smaller of the two Initiation wells which never served as a water source as the name might suggest.DSC05978
From one of the towers I embraced the last sun rays of the day and made sure to reward myself with a gigantic ice cream in the historic center of Sintra before heading back to Lisboa. The day was topped off with a dinner close to Castelo de Sao Jorge and some hot Salsa dance moves later the night at the Mirador das Portas do Sol.

So came the last day so much faster than expected and all I had in mind was to make that day count. I started with a delicious jamon y queso sandwich at mercado da ribera, a place with more than 30 food stalls offering tasty portuguese delicacies rather at the expensive end of the bill, nevertheless totally worth a visit considering how little I actually had spent that far. Happily stuffed I negotiated my way on a Tuktuk whose driver agreed to a private tour (I tried really hard to convince him to let me drive but for whatever reason he didn’t wanna give in). This ride was the best decision eeever! The only must do I had in mind even before coming to this beautiful city was to pay a visit to Antiga Confeitaria Belem, the bakery known to be the navel of the world of egg tarte pastries which are best enjoyable while warm. 15000 Pasteis de Belem how they are called are freshly produced and sold every single day to sweet teeth from all over the world. There was a queue of more than 100 meters that caused me pain only from looking at it. The easiest way to enter THE temple of custard cakes is so simple and at the same time the best way possible- with a local.

 

I had spent years on imagining how they would taste and there I was, devouring this sweet dream of desserts on the back of a Tuktuk while having the history of Lisboa explained to me. We passed the most famous sights such as the Monastery Jeronimo, Sao Bento Palace and Monument of Discoveries and I caught myself thinking how amazing it would be to live in this magical city and was determined to at least gather information to make this thought reality.

 

Could it get any better than this? Absolutely so…

Diving my toes into the refreshing blue and building sand castles at Costa da Caparica, a beach easily reachable via the 25de Abril Bridge which 100% lives up to its reputation. Impressed and totally sold my mind got carried away from the sound of the roaring waves of the Atlantic Sea.

 

 

My dearest Lisboa, as shy and innocent as you first may seem, the moment you showed me your hidden gems and wilderness you took my heart by storm and there is only one thing left to say: Muito obrigada! You always see each other twice in life! And without doubt you and me rather sooner than later.

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Stay tuned and be part of my little adventures and share the love to travel! To be continued…

f*** it! let´s do it!

So this was a big thing. A real dream come true.

Ever since I was able to think I have spent so many countless moments of my life, dreaming and imagining how it would be to travel through this heavenly place. And yes, my imagination is like a little crazy lady sitting inside my head with her own personality and own way of picturing things, whispering all those ideas into the inside of my ear and damn, I am such a great listener.

And suddenly, that day arrived when out of nothing and nowhere the opportunity came up and a quick and rational decision was made. Like it was the most natural thing to do.

It was an ordinary saturday evening during dinner, somewhere between starters and main, a lousy TV show running in the background and a loud conversation about where to head next for a new adventure, that one of the many random travel newsletters arrived in my inbox and made a rather significant impact on my wanderlust and beyond. Realizing the situation, we both just looked at each other, knowing that there was no discussion needed in order to make the next call, the only right thing to do. Leading to the one point left to argue about: how much time would we be able to spend in the country of our dreams. And the only answer to that could be: right! As long as possible – which eventually would never be long enough. I mean, what kind of question is that anyway?! FHD0454

15 minutes and spending a crack of a dime later, losing the appetite for food but growing the insane hunger to see, feel, taste and explore all and around the country of the long white clouds, I felt like floating on a fluffy light one myself. The flight was booked.

So much to see. So much to do. Sooo little time left.

My excitement increased undeniably with every day passed, causing heart pain out of joy, making me feel like screaming it out loud to the world and sharing it with my nomad soul brothers and sisters that I was, once again, lucky enough to be able and about to have the time of my life. And I would swear by myself I would make it worthwile for all the troubled souls that would love to but could not make it to experience this great adventure themself.

New Zealand, you´d better be ready for me and the army of traveling hearts I am carrying inside me, cause I am coming for you!

And off I went…

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The fern at sunset, symbol of New Zealand!

Stay tuned and be part of my little adventures and share the love to travel! To be continued…

100 years in guadeloupe

Today exactly a year ago I had the great opportunity to head to one of the most inspiring places I´ve ever been to. My man turned 30 on the same date as his mom, just 40 years later. Damn right, mother and son, same day, same month, 40 years apart from each other, 100 years altogether. Who actually can say that about themselves?dsc03924

Anyway, Se Mamie, how we fondly call her, is the best mom on earth you could possibly imagine. She´s a lovely French lady, young at heart, loves gardening and is crazily skilled in creating the most prettiest and unique greeting cards for any kind of events. Every year I receive one each for my birthday and christmas, perfectly themed and decorated with so much attention to detail that makes me grin from one ear to the other and feel loved. Having said that, I am counting down the days until christmas to see what she has in mind for this year´s merry season. And as a perfect mom she is of course always curious to hear about our adventures from all of our travels which leads to the essence of this story.

An exceptional occasion of a precious soul demands a special treatment.

Instead of telling her about another one, we were absolutely determined to send her off on her own enthralling and unforgettable adventure. Needless to say, with us in the pocket as her personal travel guides. And as a cherry on top of this anniversary cake, we decided to keep it a secret and not to let her know.

We brainstormed for quite a little while.dsc04917
First of all, we wanted to go somewhere warm. As it was frosty winter we had to go far beyond the European borders, which was handy in a way as we wanted it to be an exotic venture.

But at the same time we aimed for familiarity so that she would feel comfortable enough to explore the destination on her own, which made a French-speaking country crucial. We thought it was easier for her in the sense that she would not have to hassle with a language barrier. Even though, she took English online lessons at that time (and still does!) to be able to communicate with me. Can you imagine, your potential mother-in-law-to-be picking up a foreign language at this age?!! Come on, that´s awesome, people! Long story short, we made up our minds and the idea of the 10-day expedition to Guadeloupe was born!

We came up with a wild story. Since she moved from Paris to Bordeaux in the South of France, the region which is home to the finest wines ever by the way, my man resided in Brussels and I lived in Amsterdam, we picked Paris to be a fair point of departure. With the help of the surprise committee which meanwhile had come to life and consisted of the closest family members we tried to make it happen.

The airport we had to get her to was Paris Orly, an unusual meeting point as our regular transportation coming to Paris for a visit was the train. We convinced her that for whatever biblical reason the flight from Amsterdam was cheaper than to travel there by train. Imagine a map, Amsterdam is situated in the North of Brussels, and then comes Paris further down South. Common sense speaking, it totally didn´t make sense for us to leave from Amsterdam at all. To explain why Paris Orly we had to broaden our fairytale just a little wider as there were no flights from Brussels, just in case she would get stung by the glorious idea to look it up… I know, this is the part where you can roll your eyes biiig times.

We just wanted to play safe and not spoil the surprise, that´s it. That was the catch with Paris Orly. Anyhow, our most visionary story went on to us heading towards Germany in order to celebrate my sister´s graduation for the weekend at an indoor pool party where our protagonist would meet my parents also for the very first time.

The pool party. A desperate attempt to get her to pack her swimwear. Better safe than sorry with a sunny holiday of 30 degrees and marvelous beaches ahead of you. Go ahead, time to roll your eyes to the power of infinity!

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So came that special day, we met at the airport to which we evidently arrived by train.
We pardoned our huge luggage with the argument of a horrendous winter that was awaiting us in good cold Germany. We decided to have a coffee at a bistro before continuing to hit the road again. We spoke about how much she was looking forward to finally meeting my parents and she even brought bordelais specialties.

dsc03498While she was sharing her excitements about this family gathering thing, the only thing that crossed my mind was my constantly decelerating motion and the giant alerting capital letters in red on my forehead, growing monstrously with every second that passed whereas I was lying. It tingled all over my body and I had trouble looking straight into her eyes.

In my head, the sound of the disturbing suspense scene of Hitchcock´s Psycho increased heavily. You know, the one before the shower curtain is about to be pulled aside and the shadow of the mother appears with the deadly knife. Still, I was hoping to cover my bad story and to prevent its death penalty just in time. I wasn´t ready and yet I couldn´t wait any longer. I guess that´s the typical controversy bug women are blessed with. All insiders seemed super nervous knowing that the secret we kept from her was just about to be aired. It felt somewhat like a millenium in that moment. But no. At that point, she still didn´t read, see or sense anything at all. Lucky us.

I positioned the camera without her noticing it, ready to capture the mesmerizing moment of truth that was about to come to light. My man handed over a package with a card, which I proudly call my little contribution to this project, saying: Change of plans! We´re not going to Germany…

dsc04660Suddenly, the capital letters on my forehead reshaped themselves into one big question mark above the steaming head of this sweet woman, still bending over the package she was holding in her shivering hands. We encouraged her to open the package, cause at the end of the day we still had a plane to catch. She did, and found a travel guide for Guadeloupe in it.

In less than a fracture of a second her confidence disappeared, turned into a light version of uncertainty in order to just unfold itself into a rollercoaster of question marks, joy, exclamation marks and love. Surpriiise!

Not having clearly understood what just happened to her, the very first words she mumbled were: “I´ve packed only two trousers”, making her even more adorable. And along with that a few big tear drops rolled down her cheeks which had been hugged away tenderly by my man. Yes. Emotions. Loads of ´em. Beautiful.

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As a lady of style, Se Mamie wisely didn´t bring any summer wardrobe. Why should she have?
Actually, this is another genius idea for a magnificent experience of its kind which is most likely also the dream of any women. Going on an adventure and buying your clothes along the trip – no worries, I already added it thoroughly to the neverending bucket list a very long time ago. Same as the idea of throwing nothing else but some summer clothes in my luggage, heading towards Schiphol and spontaneously choosing my plane to the next escape just à la minute.

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Mother & son exploring the slumbering power of La Pointe des Châteaux

In retrospect, I´d have rather chosen some liquors over a coffee to digest this story. But back then, we were way too busy with enjoying that moment of pure excitement and happiness. I still have to laugh so hard when I recall the entire scenario of last year. A story, far away from true and only a person with a wonderful mind and vivid imagination could believe. And she bought it, like literally all of it. Ready or not, we were just about to take off to celebrate the 100 years anniversary in the French Antilles. About the trip itself, I promise to report another time. Just one thing, it was the best birthday party I´ve ever been to, by far.

Stay tuned and be part of my little adventures and share the love to travel! To be continued…

the neverending bucket list

Discover new countries, their cities, its people and cultures has always been my thing. There are seriously tons of stuff out there that I would like to learn about. Even though I must have walked already dozens of paths, checked out trillions of waterfalls that at some point I stopped counting and tasted so many different fruits, herbs and dishes – and trust me, it was not always that yummy as it looked like – somehow I never seem to even get close to boredom.

Time is passing seemingly quicker with every year I get older and the annual holidays in comparison have been stuck on the same number for at least a decade. And now, with a freezing winter standing on my threshold forcing me to put on some more layers to my utmost dislike, I sneak out through the back door looking for my next warm adventure. But with every mission that I proudly checked off my bucket list, believing that the big picture has been painted a little more colorful and taken more shape, somehow it always happened that at least 2 new must do´s have been added there by default.

So I can´t help but wonder, what is it that keeps me going from one place to another? And why?

  •  Like that breathtaking waterfall you can watch from the inside while feeling the water drizzle on your face and listening to its enchanting sounds of splashing down on moss-covered rocks. I think I picked that one up from a billboard while queuing for my train ticket to Amsterdam. Or was it from a movie? Not sure…

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  • Or that lagoon where huge flocks of flamingos come together for some time of the year to mate and breed – according to that guy´s opinion which I met at a friend´s housewarming party a couple of months back. There must be something to it if someone swears by the life of his old nana that whatever you do and wherever you gonna go, you definitely cannot miss out on this trip of your life. Not sure if his level of alcohol had a say in it. But hey, it cannot harm anyone by adding it to THE list, right? The largest flamingo lagoon of the Caribbeans…or was it the largest of the world? Anyway, it´s easier to erase it afterwards than to regret not having looked into it just to discover that he had a point. You never know…

I´ve always loved to put my feet on unknown ground since I could barely walk. The urge of satisfying my desire for new adventures, discovering new places, tracking hidden hike paths, tasting yet unknown flavours, burying my toes deep down into white, red or black sand beaches – it has been always there.dsc00628 The treasures of the world are hidden for the one and only reason, to be revealed by me. That´s at least what I´d like to believe. And the thought of being Indiana Jones in my personal blockbuster makes my heart jump higher. To learn about all the other ways of people seeing and doing things. To gaze at all the beautiful animals we share this planet with. To cherish every single plant mother nature created, especially those hanging trees with their long branches hanging gracefully alongside the water as if they were mourning for their dearest friend. To understand my role in this play. To be.

Call it a drug if you want, funnily enough a legal one, capable of setting free my adrenaline rush. With every time I experience it, the hunger for it grows and so do I. And the world and I become the leading characters, living happily ever after until the next chronicle.

So comes the day when the inevitable happens, as it always does. The toxic mixture of my spontaneity,curiosity and wanderlust strikes again. I choose my own poison, and I love it. I book. Cuba. A country that has been disconnected from the rest of the world for about half a century can bear only wild adventures…

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…And while I am there, busy checking off my bucket list and hunting my beloved flamingos all over the island, another mission suddenly arises: Finding the smallest frog ever on the planet! Rarely and only spotted in one of Cuba´s national parks named after the great German explorer and geographer Alexander von Humboldt. I mean, if I am here already. And anyway it is just around the corner. Or how about a visit to the Che Guevara Memorial in a smoking hot and classy Chevrolet from the 50´s? Actually,  each on its own is already an attraction by itself. Yeah right, why not…?

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Found him! The smallest frog in the world.

 

Stay tuned and be part of my little adventures and share the love to travel! To be continued…

until i see you again, love

Yes. I´ve done it again. After an absence of a certainly too long period of time, I could not but make it back to you. You, my secret queen of all times. dsc01944

Our story began when I was still a kid, taken by my parents to another summer vacation we´ve done surely hundreds of millions of times before. But in that particular year I was proven wrong. The moment we met everything else was forgotten.

Your beauty way beyond compare. Your ravishing look, so familiar and charming and at the same time mystic and different to the last time I saw you, still setting me on fire, not worth a try to deny it. Your distinctive smell, so seductive and tempting I could not resist but to take a deep breath to feel you in and around me. Your warm and loving kindness taking me in and sharing your multiple facets.

I thought I knew you with the growing number of visits. And again, you caught me by surprise. The thought of knowing all about you vanished the second I´ve had a taste of one of your delightful lemon meringue tarts. This sensation you create, impossible to describe if you haven´t experienced it yourself. I am graving for more. As usual. And I wonder…

At the end of the day, the moment arrives when our paths take different directions again. I am holding on to our memories by taking home a few of your delicate chocolate truffles.

And tonight, when the lights go off, you will keep on shining as you always did, and even brighter than before, knowing that you got me before I even realised. Knowing that I can’t stop thinking about you. Knowing that we will meet again.

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Until then, my dearest BRUGES, I´ll think of you with nothing but pure love…

Stay tuned and be part of my little adventures and share the love to travel! To be continued…