Patterns of Journey for travelers who likes the ‘sense-of-discovering’

Dear readers,

since the COVID-19 outbreak started off, most of the ordinary businesses for the tourist industry were forced to disrupt its activities, now after three months of such a pandemic outbreak, each Country of the globe is considering to re-open some activities by categorizing it into a number of phases, however so far nobody knows whether the corona virus will be defeated any time soon.

Let’s assume we will get soon over the ‘COVID-19‘ tunnel, for our future travelling challenges we may want to consider a new pattern of exploring journey which puts us out of the so-called ‘comfort-zone’ 🙂 For instance: during one of my past travels I met a Swedish guy “Tariq” who ventured to travel all the way from Sweden to Malaysia by a cross-trail bicycle, it took him approximately nine months to get through by taking several stops in many Countries in-between, even it may sound extreme this is a great example of an ECO-friendly and riveting globe trotting 😉 of course this choice does not fit everybody, it involves us to have a strong mind-set as well as a very-flexible attitude.

In this regard, we can identify three categories of travelers out of the comfort zone:

  1. Temporary traveller
  2. Medium-long term traveller
  3. Permanent traveler

Let’s pick up the first category which is likely the one concerning most of us:

First of all I would classify as a temporary traveller whoever travels for 30 days maximum, here since we perceive the time-pressure, we are supposed to know what we want get from our short ‘adventure’ by excluding any unnecessary thing as much as possible.

In order to achieve this, we need to set up a structure which helps us to decide what it is for and where we can do this and that, e.g. if we are in for the outdoor sports, then we would be focusing on where and when you could get the most of it, we would be neglecting unrelated activities such as nightlife. Short-term travel might look like over-planned because of the narrow time frame, however if we carefully focus our attention on few activities we can still have a room for some creativity, perhaps some of us may be asking, how can we?

In this regard, I am glad to share with you a draft plan that I prepared before travelling to Vietnam earlier on 2019, I used to make such an itinerary plan for 15 days, so it falls under category 1. (use the bottom horizontal scroll bar to display all the other days)

DAY/StagesFri 26th Apr.Saturday 27th AprSunday 28 AprMon 29 Apr.Tue 30 Apr.Wed 1 MayThu 2 MayFri 3 MaySat 4 MaySun 5 MayMon 6 MayTue 7 MayWed 8 MayThu 9 MayFri 10 MaySat 11 MaySun 12 May
1Regiojet bus Bratislava —-> Vienna airportFlight Bangkok —> Ha Noi 7:45am – 9:35am
by Thai Airways
Check-out at the hostel and morning photo-tour (free improvisation)If Sapa, then the challenge will hopefully be: http://sapaochau.org/sapa-trekking-and-homestay/sapa-trek-and-tour/trekking-tours/off-the-beaten-track-2-day/Off-beten trekking tour part 2Morning arrival at Ha Noi: Stay at Ha Noi or further bus to Cat Ba island?Fulld-day Jungle trekking tour in CatBaFull-day of kayaking around Lan Ha Bay by exploring the floating villagesBus back to Ha Noi, transfer to Hai Pong?
Or 1 more day by chilling in CatBa island?
Back in Ha Noi with a booked accommodationBooked plan to visit Hoi An:
VietJet Internal flight Ha Noi – Da Nang
Full-dive tour around Hoi An, and/or visit to the nearby islands?Ck-out from the Hoi An resort and transfer to the Da Nang airportHa Noi city lifeAs previous dayFinal good-bye dayArrival of inbound flight scheduled at 7:35am Vienna airport
2Flight Vienna – Bangkok 2:35pm – 5:35am (+1day)
by Thai Airways
ETA for Ha Noi: around 11:00am2pm: Bus to Sapa? Or to Cat Ba island? http://greensapabus.com
https://catbaexpress.com/bus-hanoi-to-cat-ba.html
1st full day of off-beaten trekking path tourEnding time: 5pmIf CatBa, then estimated arrival after 11am and check for a last-minute accommodation.Ref. https://www.asiaoutdoors.com.vn/kayak.htmlImprovised soft tours/chilling
time prior to the forthcoming planned flight transfer to middle-Vietnam
Ck-in at a booked resort with poolPhoto-walking, small shopping, chilling at the resort and more.Fly back to Ha Noi. Booked accommodation for the next 3 nihtsPhoto-walking, small shopping, wellness, chilling time, etc.As previous dayAs previous day
PS: need to by a suitcase to carry extra new gadgets bought over the last 3days?
3Ck-in at the booked hostelNo accommodation is bookedas aboveNight bus back to Ha NoiAfternoon time in CatBa:
check and book for jungle trekking tour and for a kayaking trip for the two upcoming days Ref. https://www.asiaoutdoors.com.vn
Trekking ends by 5pm.Kayaking ends by 5pmOverview approaching visit at the city centre of Hoi An UNESCO heritage, full of colorful lights, traditional shops and Cafes.Afternoon time: start of grand-finale with pure improvisation what-to-do and where to goIf so, there are still few hours till 5:30pm to do so 🙂
4Ha Noi overview sightseeing*For Sapa accommodation might be provided by the tour agent http://sapaochau.orgas aboveSleep on the busChlling/sleeping time to get back in a shapeEvening time: (Post-)Sunset photoshooting?One more sunset shooting session?Sunset shooting session in
Ha Noi?
Photoshooting session by the sunset as well as at night5:30pm: deadline to transfet to Ha Noi international airport.
5Get to Sapa O’Chau branch to know details about the off-beaten trek in SapaEvening stroll in Sapa to check the poor ppl villagesSleeping at the planned homestay by the tour agent at half-way of the tourIf stay in Ha Noi, then chilling time and decide what and where-to nextTrekking dayKayaking and evening chil-out around CatBa townChill-out/motorbike tour
(if CatBa)
Photo-walking/chill-outThai Airways flight to Bangkok scheduled at 8:45pm
6Evening chill-out
treno 4/g a sett)
Bratislava –> Vienna airportHa NoiHA Noi –> Sapa? Cat Ba island?Sapa O ChauSapa -> Ha NoiHa Noi? -> CatBa island?CatBa islandCatBa IslandCataba//HaI Pong/Ha NoiHa NoiHa Noi -> Hoi AnHoi An/Islands
nearby
Hoi An -> Ha NoiHa NoiHa NoiHa Noi (final day) – departure back to EU
Ha Noi -> Bangkok -> Vienna
Draft itinerary plan for northern and central Vietnam 2019

It might look cumbersome, however it isn’t 🙂

From this practical example, you might notice several activities which are related to the place you want to explore, i.e. Sapa area is mostly for hiking and trekking, alternatively the town of Sapa offers SPA and other chilling activities, in both cases you may want to include the photography as a hobby 🙂 Besides that, you can break each single single day into sateges, maximum 6 stages would be enough for not making it too cumbersome; some of those stage can be left as a ‘jolly’ so that you would be deciding on the spot about what to go for 🙂

When it comes to the ‘medium-long’ term journey the things are different, we do not need for such an accurate itinerary plan, however we still need to know where we want to go and what we want to do as basic, in this regard I would pick up as example the 37-days journey which I experienced in 2018; here, since my core focus was to enjoy the nature, I came to the decision to dedicate a full month travelling around Indonesia, after that I spent the last 7 days in Kuala Lumpur and then in Singapore, yes just seven days were worthy since the city life was the second concern of my journey 🙂

To be fair, this is a kind of journey which requires some time to make our own research and possibly get inspirations by some locals we meet by chance in our living country, it will help us a lot, for instance, before travelling to Indonesia, I had a chance to meet two indonesian women in my living town, I mentioned them about my travel plan and since I wanted to travel first to Java for 14 days and then move to Sumbawa for just 3 days and finally to Flores for 11 days, they nicely managed to persuade me to cut out 3 days for Sumbawa and I spent three more days in Flores instead.

As a result, I got more than enough time to enjoy a motorbike tour across Flores, if you wish to read more just refer to this article: https://theblogofeggiamp.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/flores-the-conservative-face-of-indonesia-with-surprising-people-on-the-way/

One hint I want to give you is that if you are travelling in a not-so-developed country, you will benefit a lot from renting a motorbike because you will have more space for the improvisation and more chance to discover some unbeaten spots 🙂 For your convenience I have embedded a screenshot about what was the motorbike tour I did on the way to the east (I could just fit 10 stops on it, in fact I did more)

10 Key-stops in Flores

Finally, the permanent journey is something which we know when we start but we don’t know whether or if ever ends, honestly in this kind of journey I can’t be helpful because so far in my life I haven’t experienced one, however my guess is that all we need is just answer the following questions:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. How do you want to be globetrotting?
  3. How do you want to live?
  4. What are your expectations out of it?

If you are able to answer these questions above, it likely means that you are ready to take the challenge! Based on my personal experience with the temporary and medium-long term travel, I venture to say that such a journey should be experienced as a backpacker (at least as you start on it), secondly you shouldn’t plan anything in advance but you’d rather go on the spur of the moment which mean pure improvisation, it should be journey which often (if not always) put ourselves out of the ‘comfort-zone’.

Perhaps before taking such a challenge, it could be advisable to experience a one or two-months journey, however each of us in the world have a different life attitude, so even the one who never traveled in his/her life and is going for the first time might succeed his/her mission and have something meaningful to teach or share with other humans 🙂

Having said that that, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on such three patterns of journey as well as feel free to suggest your ideas 🙂

Giuseppe

MTB riding: the unbeaten labyrinth of the Danube river

Dear readers,

It is time to cover a brand-new topic which is the off-road cycling. Being a passionate cyclist I have grown lots of experiences, especially with off-road cycling! Since I live in Bratislava, perhaps not everybody living in the central Europe knows that along the (long) Danube river we can end up finding multiple paths/diversions of the main Danube, that is the case of the area which is enclosed by Hungary and Slovakia.

Assuming you live in Bratislava and you want to start riding from that point, you have a solely choice to reach the labyrinth of ‘green islands’, ride through the green C path via Petržalka-Rusovce-Čunovo. For your convenience just take a look at the map below for a clear overview 🙂

Overview map of cycling route to Danube islands
Ending route from Dunaremete pier (landmark 4)

For the itinerary details you can either refer to the following link: https://en.mapy.cz/s/3sPxV or just follow out the summarized instructions in English below:

(the explanation from mapy.cz is only provided in Czech language so far)

  1. Ride across the Stary Most (Old bridge)
  2. Take left by following the Green C signs (Eurovelo 6) to Čunovo
  3. Once in Čunovo, you are at the border with Hungary: keep riding straight ahead (do not follow the green track to Rajka any more)
  4. Keep cycling on that raised gravel track for apx. 15km to Dunakiliti
  5. At one point, you will notice on the left side a linking path which gets down on the river forest: there you go!
  6. Once down, you will see a cross trail: take right to Dunaremete pier, or take left if you wish to explore more the Danube labyrinth.
  7. Finally, you have two choices: either you take right from Dunaremete or you ride farther straight for apx. 5km and then you will turn on the right as soon as you see and adjacent trail (you will get to cross two bridges in order to get out of the funny labyrinth of islands).

If the instructions are not meaningful enough no worries, I have attached here few key images for you 🙂

https://goo.gl/maps/hZST6jCiGjPvs1Aj6

As shown above, when you are in Dunakiliti take as a reference Vadviz Kemping to lively enter the Dunasziget (Danube isles).

If until that point you had the feeling to be bored, here the big fun starts! As first, you will meet lots of loitering and running deers. It is just incredible how many of them you can meet along the trail; in addition to that, be aware that there can also be few tiny snakes, I have seen one by riding through and luckily by the time I passed it was already aside, that is a bigger concern for whoever ventures in the trails by hiking.

Here below there are some available images from my recent trip in there.

After apx. 15km of riding in the Danube forest from the camp site, you will approach Dunaremete which is a chilling spot with a small pier, it daily runs few small ferries to carry few cars, bikers and passengers to Gabčíkovo back to the Slovakian territory, this can also be a customizing option for your own trips if you are lucky enough to catch it at the right time!

Thanks to my friend Attila, we made the tour very juicy by arriving at Ásványráró village and from there we decided to ride farther to the connecting bridge back to Medvedov in Slovakia, since we felt we had not better choice and ride back all the way round it would have been boring!

Just few quick facts about the bicycles: we had ridden with a Giant MTB Talon 1 27.5″ myself whereas my friend was provided with Trek cross-trail bike, the second one is enough to deal with such a trail as long as it is dry, perhaps when it is muddy then MTB tires are more effective! I do not recommend to enjoy such a forest trail with a race bike unless you want to damage it on a purpose!

Having said that, try your best to plan out a Danube cycling trip based on the mentioned hints of this article and then you will be able to share you experience! Last bu not the least, you can find out many other spots with Danube diversions on the Austrian territory, this is just a riveting one!

If you have any concern or just a remark do not hesitate to leave a comment or just contact me by using the dedicated form from the main menu!

Giuseppe

Záhorie: the unbeaten north-west area of SLOVAKIA

Calvary in the town of Skalica

Dear explorers,

a new spring season is just started and soon I had a chance to set off by car with my girlfriend to the north-west area of Slovakia known as Záhorie, the name itself means “by-the-mountains” because it is a extended wooded flat area enclosed by the Little Carpathians (Malé Karpaty) on the east and the Morava river on the west, in addition to that, Záhorie itself is segmented by the two regions Bratislavský kraj (capital region) and Trnavský kraj (region of Trnava).

We focused on the upper-east part which is in the region of Trnava and it boundaries with Czech Republic, we had chance to visit three key towns:

  1. Skalica
  2. Holíč
  3. Šaštín-Stráže
Map of Záhorie

Living in the capital city Bratislava and travelling to our first destination Skalica was simply impressive to observe how big is the potential of Slovakia with plenty of woods and forests all around, although nowadays most of Slovakia attractions have become very attractive and therefore very popular and overcrowded, in here it seems there is no such hordes of visitors around 🙂 We could even afford to park the car for free at the edge of the main square (imagine yourselves to do such a thing in any other bigger town).

Skalica was worth the trip for three reasons:

  1. the suggestive Calvary at the top of a very small hill
  2. Rotunda SV Juraja (Round terrace of Saint George)
  3. the city walls which surround the centre of the town

The third one recalls the age of the Great Moravian Empire conflicting with the Austrian-Hungarian empire and since Skalica was founded in the middle-age therefore it was a big concern to be protected by the external attacks.

After we spent two hours by enjoying a chilly walk around as well as photo-shooting to catch up all the most relevant spots (soon a new selected photo set will be uploaded on my Flickr page), we had a lunch break and then we moved to our second destination Holíč.

Holíč is famous for its baroque-style chateau which was originally built during the middle age as a water castle and later on 1736 it was re-built during the aforesaid baroque century by František Lotrinský, the interior of such a great chateau was unfortunately closed however according to the details it counts of almost hundred of rooms. (Look at the pictures below)

Such a cultural visit from the exterior took us one hour, so then since the day light was generously going on, we further drove to our third destination
Šaštín-Stráže.

This is one of the youngest village in Slovakia because was settled as town municipality on year 2001. According to the history background it was the result of merging two separate villages: Šaštín and Stráže nad Myjavou.

It is renowned for its imposing basilica in which comes in for several pilgrimages once per year on Pentecost, however (fortunately) that was not our case and we enjoyed all the surrounding areas with a peaceful environment 🙂 Moreover, we have found out that there is even a railway station as well as quite some refurbished houses with huge gardens which are a great inspiring idea of a relaxing living town.

To sum it up, if you wish to spend an inspiring chilling Saturday away from the capital city, this tour could be a great choice to discover some new great and alternative aspects of the country-side in Slovakia. Moreover, I feel like to recommend it for a cycling tour, we have noticed that cycle tracks are pretty much everywhere, then especially around Skalica.

Giuseppe

Banská Štiavnica: UNESCO world heritage in the hearth of Slovakia.

Dear explorers,

after such a long time spent finally I am here to talk about something new and different!

One week me and my girlfriend, despite being very warm, made the decision of driving from Bratislava to the central region of Slovakia denominated Banskobystrický kraj  for a cultural summer weekend, we stayed over Friday and Saturday nights since our research came to tell us that it was 100% worthy to do so!

For such a purpose we chose to stay at a holiday apartment  with garden on a small hill, the panorama view was simply nice because we could see by distance the scenery of the hilly landscape as shown below:

We drew two separated plans, one for Saturday and one for Sunday because having the considered the type of attractions and the locations they involved us a different mind-set, therefore on Saturday we went for visiting the outdoor attractions as followed:

  1. Kalvaria chapel
  2. Banská Štiavnica downtown
  3. Banská Štiavnica in miniature exposition
  4. Banská Štiavnica castle with city walls

The first attraction is a recently restored baroque-style chapel which before ten years ago was abandoned,  it is situated on the top of a small hill and the restoration works took place from 2008 and were completed on 2016, it was supported by some private funds issued by the VUB Bank institution, it looks like a small architectural jewel which must really be visited to realize how nicely they made it, moreover, if you are with a girlfriend here you have a great chance to enjoy a romantic morning hiking 🙂 you just need max. 90 minutes, therefore you can’t miss it out!

Some pictures below could be impressive to figure out how the spot it is:

The second one is the historical town of Banská Štiavnica which nowadays has become very popular and crowded, you can even find two Italian fashion boutiques!

Having visited it earlier on 2008 I can compare the difference and I can say that at that time was a peaceful town, however long time is spent since then and everything, like everywhere in Europe, is to be properly arranged for the ‘visitors’. If you like to have  some small shopping then the market will not disappoint you.

Here below, few pictures are shown:

The third one is purely an indoor exposition of Banská Štiavnica and the nearby villages in miniature, it is something quite recent, it is worthy to be visited for 1.50€ of entrance fee, here below you there are two pictures:

The fourth one is the city castle with high walls, this castle even not that impressive has an outdoor courtyard and some sub-levels indoor rooms arranged for punishing some war prisoners, perhaps it might look scary at your eyes, however that was how it worked in our ancient world. Overall, it is worthy to visit if you are in Banská Štiavnica for the 1st time and it takes maximum one hour for visiting it.

Finally, the only Sunday plan was to visit a manor house situated in Svätý Antonin Slovak is commonly defined as Kaštieľ  that’s to say a huge noble palace which was built under the Austro-Hungaric empire and numerous rich family members lived in there over the past centuries. My personal feeling was to visit a Schönbrunn Palace in miniature,  and I am not much in for visiting such palaces in which the luxuriousness is emphasized, however it is a part of the European history and we can not ignore it. Just I am not going to mention details on it but instead I will show you some pictures of it:

In conclusion, the summer trip itself had a good achievement as a combination of cultural enrichment with some soft hiking activity, it was useful to re-visit what the history was and what fabulous left over the past centuries, therefore if over the summer you are a bit bored of dealing always with just swimming or just hiking through the nature you may find a great compromise with such a trip, just go for it!

If any advice do not hesitate to contact me or just leave a comment!

Giuseppe