Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘travels’ Category

Ireland revisited


Last year, while preparing my journey through Ireland and Scotland, my mother told me that Ireland had been on her wishlist for so long, but now she was getting older, she’d probably never see her dream come true. That got me thinking.

So I started saving money every month to make her dream come true. After 6 months of living frugally I had enough money. So, 2 days after her 73rd birthday we left for a 2 week journey through Ireland.

Celebrating my mother's 73rd birthday in Antwerp.

Celebrating my mother’s 73rd birthday in Antwerp.

Because of the short period and my mother’s age, I gave up my principle of not taking airplanes. We flew from Brussels to Dublin, where we stayed 1 night.

Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin

Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin

Our first pub visit in Dublin, VAT House in Temple Bar.

Our first pub visit in Dublin, VAT bar in Temple Bar.

The next day we took the train to Galway. We stayed for several days, enjoyed the good life in this beautiful town and visited the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.

Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara

Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara

Corcomroe Abbey, near Ballyvaughan

Corcomroe Abbey, near Ballyvaughan

Poulnabrone Dolmen, near Kilnaboy

Poulnabrone Dolmen, near Kilnaboy

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

We took the bus to Doolin so we could visit the Aran Islands.

Fitzpatrick's pub in Doolin.

Fitzpatrick’s pub in Doolin.

Inisheer, Aran Islands

Inisheer, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore

Inishmore

Inishmaan

Inishmaan

From Doolin we traveled to Galway and then on to Clifden, Connemara for a few days. In the secondhand book shop (that also doubles as a music shop) I bought a really nice novel on Ireland, by Frank Delaney. I also bought a nice harp cd (learning to play the harp myself) and some wooden spoons (the percussion instrument, that is).

Enjoying Galway Hooker beer in the Station House in Clifden.

Enjoying Galway Hooker beer in the Station House in Clifden.

Kylemore Abbey, Letterfrack

Kylemore Abbey, Letterfrack

Connemara mountains as seen from Kylemore Abbey

Connemara mountains as seen from Kylemore Abbey

Once again we took the bus to Galway to travel on to Sligo and then to NarinDonegal.
Last year I met a really nice couple in Cahersiveen. They live in Belfast, so I stayed with them on my way to Scotland in 2014. The lady’s roots lie in Donegal, so this year they invited me and my mom to stay at their holiday home for a couple of days. The Donegal coast is really beautiful. And I just loved the little town of Ardara!

View on Narin Beach from Portnoo

View on Narin Beach from Portnoo

Finally some sun! :)

Finally some sun! 🙂

Nancy's bar, wonderful pub in Ardara

Nancy’s bar, wonderful pub in Ardara

Annoras pub in Narin

Annoras pub in Narin

The two weeks we spent in Ireland were really cold. We had 10°C, lots of rain, mist, heavy wind. And it was the middle of may. I kept getting texts from friends telling how nice the weather in Belgium was and that they were enjoying ice cream in the sun… But now and then we were lucky and saw a bit of sunshine. The bad weather was a good excuse to indulge on locally woven tweed, woolen clothing and hot whiskeys. :p

Our last 2 nights were spent in Dublin where we, amongst others,  visited the wonderful National Museum. In the museum I bought this wonderful book on paganism in ancient Ireland by Jo Kerrigan.

10885088_10205367994774015_2357915850652860910_n

Trinity College, Dublin

Molly Malone in Dublin's fair city

Molly Malone in Dublin’s fair city

Arriving back in Belgium, with a woolen jumper on, tweed scarve and tweed hat, I was shocked that summer had arrived here. Such a contrast to the winter weather we had in Ireland. It made me realize once more what a moderate climate we have in Belgium and how we seldom appreciate it and just take it for granted.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Ch ch ch changes


It’s been a while since my last blog. My life has changed quite a lot these last few months. I have decided to make a career change. I will no longer work for a nature organisation from april on. I will go to school again, study to become a travel guide for European countries.

I am really happy with this decision. It brings together all of my passions: history, culture, art, nature and travel!

Beautiful view on the Connemara mountains in Roundstone

Beautiful view on the Connemara mountains in Roundstone

In may I will visit Ireland again, only 2 weeks this time. From Dublin to Galway, the Burren, Connemara and then to Donegal. Looking forward to it.

In july my love and I will backpack in Norway. Life awaits. Let the journey begin!

Read Full Post »

How to pack your backpack


If you are backpacking on your own, you need to carry everything you need. Choosing necessary items and leaving out other ones is very important. You don’t want to carry a backpack that is too heavy.

I am small (1,58 m), so that leaves me little space in my backpack. My backpack is the Gregory Deva 60 l small.  This backpack was designed especially for women.

DSCN1760

In this blog I will show you what I took with me on my solo trip through Ireland and Scotland. I traveled for 2,5 months and camped most of the time. So I had to take my tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag with me. And I traveled through countries where it rains a lot. So all of these items had to be inside my backpack. These items filled up 2/3 of my pack. So that left me 1/3 to fill with cooking gear, clothing and toiletries. I had to carry my food outside my backpack.

Camping in Mainistir, Innishmore, Ireland

Camping in Mainistir, Innishmore, Ireland

Clothing

  •  1 two-layer jacket (raincoat with attached fleece, by Lafuma).
    This was my coat, so I would wear it all the time when the weather was bad. When the weather was good I had to strap it on the outside, on the bottom of my backpack.
  • 1 Exped Daypack poncho.
    A lot of people tell you not to take one. I couldn’t have done without this one. It keeps wind and rain out and you can attach it everywhere so the wind doesn’t blow it up. It made a huge difference in comfort being dry and warm.
  • 2 pairs of trousers: 1 pair of Fjallraven G1000 pants and 1 lightweight pair.
    The lightweight one could be made into shorts.
    I would wear 1 pair and have the other pair in my backpack.
  • 1 extra lightweight fleece. This was 1 fleece too much. So I sent it back home while travelling.
  • Thermal underwear: Icebreaker merino wool leggings and a long sleeve merino top for the cold stormy nights.
  • 1 Icebreaker merino wool top to wear under my other stuff.
  • 2 Icebreaker merino wool t-shirts.
  • 1 lightweight dress & t-shirt by Ayacucho.
    Ayacucho claimed that these were ‘no smell’ and dried easily, just like merino wool. Well, they weren’t, so I sent them back home. I bought a new merino wool t-shirt instead. I should have known this. But the Ayacucho items were less expensive, that’s why I gave them a go. They were definitely not made for a long backpack trip.
  • 4 lightweight underpants and 2 bras
  • 2 pairs of merino wool socks by smartwool.
    These were a really good buy. You just have to hang them outside during the night and they are totally fresh to wear the next morning. This works for all merino wool products. I washed them every 4 days.
  • A hat against the sun
  • A woolen hat for the cold at night
  • Renegade hiking boots by Lowa
  • Teva hiking sandals

All the clothes I wasn’t wearing were stuffed in a stuffsack.

West Highland Way, Scotland

West Highland Way, Scotland

Other necessities

  • 1 Vaude Campo Arco tent
  • Heavy duty tent pegs for rocky ground
  • 1 XS Prolite plus ThermaRest sleeping pad
  • 1 down sleeping bag Cheyenne by Vaude
  • 1 multifuel cooking stove Gravity MF II
  • 1 fuel bottle
  • 1 cooking pot Halulite Minimalist
  • 1 spork
  • 1 foldable Sea to Summit bowl
  • 1 Petzl head lamp
  • rainproof matches
  • a whistle/fire steel by Light my Fire
  • 1 Sea to Summit clothesline
  • a survival kit
  • an EHBO kit
  • Dehydrated food
  • A drinking bottle 1l by Sigg
  • A camelback.
    I should have left it at home. Just used it once. Never again.
  • A Katadyn mini waterfilter
  • 1 lightweight foldable daypack. I used this to carry my food supplies.
  • Walking poles

Toiletries

  • Tooth brush
  • Tooth paste
  • Coconut oil (I used this to cook, on my skin, as deodorant and on my hair as a conditioner)
  • Resin-beeswax cream to use on small cuts and blisters
  • wilderness soap
  • a small lightweight brush for my long hair
  • a mooncup for those monthly moments
  • a Sea to Summit lightweight towel

Other stuff

  • Guide book
  • maps
  • notebook & pen
  • cell phone
  • wallet
  • iPod
  • chargers for my cell phone and iPod
  • 1 small camera + extra batteries

So, that is a lot of stuff. Really. And it weighed quite a lot. What I should have left home was the ayacucho clothing, the camelback and used gas as fuel in stead of petrol. That would have saved me some space and kilos. But all of the other things in my backpack, I couldn’t have done without I think.

With my Gregory Deva 60 l in the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland

With my Gregory Deva 60 l in the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland

 

Extra clothing is a luxury when you’re away for such a long time. A lot of people told me I should not take extra pants or an extra t-shirt. I’m really happy I did. If you go on a hike for a week, things like this don’t matter. They do matter when you travel longer.

Cairngorms, Scotland

Cairngorms, Scotland

So, what would you leave at home when you see my list?

 

 

 

Read Full Post »


Well, here they are, my 3 Scottish highlights! Outer Hebrides The rugged nature. The beautiful light and the most magical beaches I have ever seen! The outer Hebrides feel very authentic. People still speak Gaelic and keep old traditions like weaving Harris tweed alive. The people I met there were very kind and sincere. The islands have a magical, calm feel about them. Stillness in nature. Real raw natural beauty.

Wanna read more? Click here!

Third Callanish stone circle

Third Callanish stone circle

Isle of Lewis

Isle of Lewis

Isle of Harris

Isle of Harris

Drinishader

Drinishader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cairngorm Mountains Feeling the Highlands while hiking through and wild camping on a vast mountain range. Spending the night in a bothy and wondering if you are part of a Tolkien book. Beautiful mountain lakes and enchanting sunsets.

Wanna read more? Click here!

Beautiful river valley next to Cairn Gorm mountain

Beautiful river valley next to Cairn Gorm mountain

Beautiful view from the bothy

Amazing view from the bothy

Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich

Sunset

Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orkney Ancient stone circles and neolithic villages. Storytelling and viking runes. No trees. Just wind and ocean spray. Nowhere else did I get such immense satisfaction for the archaeologist and historian in me.

Wanna read more? Click here!

Skara Brae, best preserved neolithical village

Skara Brae, best preserved neolithical village

Maeshowe tomb

Maeshowe tomb

Stromness fisherman

Stromness fisherman

Ring of Brodgar and the beautiful heather carpet

Ring of Brodgar and the purple blooming heather

Read Full Post »