Chao Lao Beach: the hidden spot surrounded by pink rocks

Dear readers,

back to December 2021, I had the opportunity to come back to Thailand to visit some new secluded areas. My focus was on the eastern coast toward Cambodia, after having visited Pattaya and Rayong, I decided (as always) to get out of the ‘comfort zone’ and I headed to Chao Lao beach which is situated in the province of Chanthaburi, you can see the snapshot of the map below:

Overview map above

Unlike the very popular Pattaya city, this is a village where there are lot’s of affordable SPA resorts and now being the post-pandemic time there are very few foreigners (Thai people call them ‘farangs’) getting to this area. I stayed over three days and I did a deep exploration of the surrounding nature. The beach itself is really quiet, cleaned and like the old days, you can have a coconut juice or a lemonade while enjoying the beach, the surrounding sea is shallow which is ideal for families with kids. It is approximately four hours of driving or riding from Bangkok.

The second day that I was there, I decided to rent a motorbike for a further exploration to the very south of peninsula, I entered a national park by paying 200Baths, I parked the bike and I continued hiking to the Pink Stone spot. (See the map below)

The hiking itself is not so difficult and it takes max. half an hour, just you need to have proper shoes or hiking sandals to be safe, and obviously December falls on the dry season so just be prepared to sweat 🙂

Here below there few pictures of the Pink Stone spot:

The most surprising thing of this attraction is a shelter which is built by green glass bottles, I ventured to visited it inside and it looks weird and perhaps a bit scary if you get there at night! If you wish to learn more about the mysterious shelter, I have made a video-reportage by my action camera in which I lively visited it inside 🙂 Here below I have embedded the YouTube video:

Other than this intriguing shelter, I show you few pictures about the sandy beach of Chao Lao:

Usually, during the morning the sea water laps against part of the beach, however in the afternoon the sea water deflects further out to sea and the beach widens out: the last two pictures were taken in the morning time whereas all the others were taken in the afternoon, the difference is clearly visible 🙂

All in all, Chao Lao is a great compromise between having a rest away from the ‘city-life’ and a good opportunity for a soft-hiking, my guess it is ideal for family with kids and for couples on a romantic gateway. The only cons you may experience is that (if you are picky with the food) here you can’t get more than seafood, and last but not least be careful where you go to eat seafood and what you eat, some BBQ seafood may look tasty but then it might be painy to digest it, that was my case one evening: I got intoxicated by some sea snails which I guess were not properly washed out.

That being said, enjoy your experience in Chao Lao beach!

PLAYA ESCONDIDA: a secluded and almost inaccessible beach of Dominican Republic

Dear readers,

I am just back from having discovered Dominican Republic with its pros and cons: the first approach was very tough especially when it comes to dealing with the public safety and cleanliness. Before starting my tour I decided to rent a vehicle instead (I usually rent a motorbike), however this time nobody in the capital city Santo Domingo rented one due to the high volume of daily road accidents so I gave it up. One of the stops in my itinerary was Playa Escondida which means Hidden beach. This beach is situated approximately 3.4km away from the municipality of Las Terrenas.

There are theoretically three ways to get to Playa Escondida:

  1. By trekking through a wooded jungle trail with a muddy swamp in-between (the hardest and dangerous one)
  2. By trekking around the hilly landscape from a gate (if it’s open)
  3. By a boat from Las Terrenas beach on the other side (the safe way)

On top of that, my recommendation is to get as close as the Sailing Club which I highlighted in the snapshot of the map below. Here you can park your car or motorbike since by the area with limited access is not allowed to park.

Because I am a stubborn I went for the hardest choice and while I was starting to figure out how to get through, I met a Czech guy on the way (Martin) with a female friend, they were trying to figuring out and achieve the same goal as I was, after a short introduction we spontaneously took the challenge together, and here we run in to the first incognita:

After walking up to calle Loma Bonita we end up at VILLA CACIQUE OCEAN VIEW with a closed gate and we asked ourselves: what now?

We thought that the beach was only privately accessible from the villa and therefore we tried to talk to some rangers working at the Villa, they said that there was no access and the only way to get there is to override a boundary wall, hike down through the bushes and get through a muddy swamp. The Czech guy and I were eager to start off whereas the female fiend of his NOT. That said one of the rangers offered to us his help by cutting off some bushes on the way, I started hiking down until we get at the edge of the swamp and here the big fun came: the swamp was like a 10-metres gap between the wonderful beach and the jungle, however we couldn’t hike by any means straight through because we would have dived down at the first badass muddy watered spot.

I happened to put my left foot in such a invisible muddy spot and it was very scary since I had to try hard to release it, fortunately the ranger was nearby and rescued me immediately with his hand.

Here below there is a picture of the high bushes very close to the swamps

Meanwhile the Czech guy came down to the edge of the swamp with my backpack 🙂 We gave him the full awareness of the big danger to overcome in-between, to make it short we managed to find out a convoluted zig-zag path to minimize the big risk of diving down with the legs, it took us nearly one hour but it was truly rewarding! The rangers were with us and let us enjoy the most of it by cutting two coconuts from the palm tree so that we could have more liquids in our roaring stomachs 😀

Here below a stunning scenery of Playa Escondida and myself captured drinking the coconut:

While being on the beach I took the advantage of having some squat exercise to support the leg muscles, this is an exercise which I recommend it to everybody adult like me to do it on daily basis.

To sum it up, when you lie the beach you may be feeling in a small paradise which is the ideal to be there for a romantic and exotic day with a girlfriend 🙂 I strongly recommend of getting there by boat, or if you really have to hike, never go alone, always keep in mind that you can not be the best expert of the local nature :O Hike through the swamps is an hellish experience, let’s be wise with our life, so just have ranger with you who knows how it is the situation. Last but not least, I did it during the beginning of the dry season, during the wet season it would be a sort of mission IMPOSSIBLE to get across. For your reference the dry season in Dominican Republic is usually from November through March.

Having said that, enjoy the trip with precautions!

Giuseppe

BEING A WORLD EXPLORER DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TIME

Dear fellow readers,

most of us are aware of the fact that the pandemic spreading of the coronavirus prevented us from travelling around the globe indefinitely 😦

However, few of us who were lucky enough to afford to travel and stay safely until a certain point, this was my case and I am glad to share with you some relevant facts about what went on while exploring another part of the world: I traveled for a period of twenty days from 26th of February through 17th of March to South-East Asia, I explored Cambodia and Thailand, being an Italian living abroad but still holding an Italian passport it was not an easy challenge:

I was originally supposed to travel to Cambodia and then to Vietnam, by the time I started travelling all the way from Europe to Cambodia as 1st final destination everything was smooth with no hassles, despite the media already on February started getting us warned and scared about the growing cases globally, for instance at Vienna airport nobody checked the temperature of the boarding passenger, only when I approached Bangkok airport they checked my temperature before transferring to another gate to fly to my final destination, in addition, I noticed that at Bangkok apt they provided everywhere spare hand-sanitizer gel.

Generally speaking, after entering Cambodia most of people appeared to be very-relaxed like they did not want to care much about precautions for coronavirus, the clerk of the villa resort where I stayed in Siem Reap told me that there were no (recorded) cases in the region, however if you went to some pharmacies you could buy all the precautions you needed e.g. antibacterial hand gel and masks with filter.

This situation gave me lot’s of motivation to quietly continue on my trip, however this does not mean that we do not have to care about hygiene and so on, we MUST: Roads are usually dusty with red sands aside and badly-surfaced, so when you trip around either by a tour agent or on your own by (motor-)bike you will inevitably get dirty skin, I recall that I treated my hands with the antibacterial six times a day, dry hot weather and dust are terrible, look at the pictures below:

The most extreme scenarios I ever experienced were in Sihanoukville region: the city is completely being rebuilt with constructions, water pipes, road infrastructure and so on all at the same time with no safety rules, here the hygiene was an extreme challenge, I count that I disinfected my hands ten times per day for not talking about that I got to wash urgently my nose masks and even my backpack which became from blue to black colour!! This is just a not-to-go place for the time being.

Other than that, Cambodia has reported only 103 cases so far, it is difficult to argue on it, perhaps many factors like weather might leverage the spreading of the viruses, who knows? In any case you can keep following up the cases on this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

After seven days spent in Cambodia, I got ready and keen to fly to Vietnam, I had a scheduled flight early in the morning from Phnom Penh airport, but here a rocking surprise came out:

Being an italian traveler with italian passport I was denied at the check-in counter to fly to Vietnam, the reason for that? Vietnamese government enforced new restrictions for the italians just two days before my flight (3rd of March), no reason was worth to persuade them that I am an italian resident in another European country, so I had to re-think my travel plans for the other 13 days. I would suggest you the following basic approach

  1. What do we want to do next?
  2. Where do we want to go next?
  3. How to manage it with some improvisation? 🙂

Even a badass happening is a valuable experience to take it with energy to move on! Despite the clerk at the check-in was not so kind they still gave me a hint by suggesting me to stay and enjoy Cambodia longer, so I sat on a bench and picked-up my laptop, I started doing my own research and I gave myself an answer about What and Where, the outcome was Thailand, indeed it turned out to be a wise choice since any other Country few days later started to close the borders for the Italians (Thailand included), at least I could catch the final vector of the returning flight back to Europe, also the travelling life got simplified!

Now you may be asking how I managed it:

Being provided with a laptop and a smartphone with local SIM mobile data, I checked forthcoming departures to Bangkok and I caught an Air Asia flight to Bangkok which was just three hours upfront the current time, I just booked and paid for it, since I had time I could afford to make a research about where to go and what to visit since Thailand was not a new Country for me, this made me to decide to explore the North Thailand which is just a way less touristy than in the south and characterized by some national parks with some jungle trails to go for. Look at the pictures below:

Thailand itself is nowadays a well-developed country, in every public place they always provide you with hand-wash gel, they seemed to me to be more picky than any European country at least in the urbanized areas, when it comes to the life of people in the rural village they feel safe by doing their own life and as opposite they felt scared as they saw some exploring foreigner hiking through, one tour guide said that they think we could spread them COVID-19 , so all we did with some of them not friendly was just keeping some distance as a sign of respect, however nobody of us was not allowed to say them ‘hi‘ or better ‘S̄wạs̄dī‘ in Thai!

All in all, this is a life experience that I strongly suggest go for it, cancel your time off and go back to your ordinary country is the very last thing you should do, in these circumstances would have been a huge mistake which only could get you a way more frustrated, so never give up as long as you have a leeway to adjust your plans but let’s be responsible with the hygiene in this time! Finally, try to improvise some situations when ‘shit happens’ 🙂

Feel free to share your own experience!

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

SAPA: second day OFF the beaten tracks among the remote villages

Following my previous post for the first day of trekking, for completion I dedicate this post for the second day of SaPa adventure 🙂

First of all, the home-stay where we slept was nicely arranged for us foreigners and I was surprised since they even had a western toilet with shower (my guess is that they would not have the same toilet in other houses/shelters in the village), the reason behind that is that they cooperate with Sapa O’ Chau tour which is one of the most reliable and best rated tour agent in SaPa and besides that, Sapa has become a popular destination nowadays. However, be sure that if you ever end up sleeping at a casual house in such villages you could never expect a western toilet! The experience in Indonesia (Flores) taught me something.

Secondly, like in every village the morning starts very soon, at 5am you can already observe ‘women at work’ taking care of the chickens, goats and cows already awoken, and myself I caught the chance to get up to record the scenery during the sun-raising , after that I just returned to the bed to sleep a bit more. Finally we all got up around 7:30am to enjoy the offered breakfast and get ready to set off.

Not until we started off, we had to trek further up to a steep hill on a muddy trail, despite the conditions of the trails local people ventures to get through by scooter, I could imagine how often they break the suspensions 😀

When we arrived at the top-point of Soi Thau village there were two kids playing with each other and smiling to us like to say ‘Welcome aliens!’

Once we reached the top point, the trail upfront looked at our eyes long and well-distributed throughout the immense landscape, compared to what we had to trek the day before this was a way easier, after one hour of trekking we got to pass through a weak water-stream originated by a small waterfall see the picture below:

Water pool in-between the trail

it was nothing impressive, we stop by to record some scenery around, then when we continued, we finally got to trek gradually upper and upper, the trail itself had been carved along the perimeter of the hills and it was wide enough so that we were fully-safe 🙂

at one point we end up passing one more farm house, as aliens we said ‘xin chao‘ to the local guy outside the house, however he did not react: our tour guide Su explained us that most of them are rather shy with the aliens and therefore they will barely react, in addition there is the title of the tour itself ‘OFF the beaten track’ 🙂 During the first day of the tour I made an estimation that we met max. three more foreigners who probably were with another tour guide, other than that no one more was around. See below the surrounding scenery 🙂

At one point we arrived at the top point of the last hill, and after that we only experienced downhill, the more we were getting down and more we started observing more and more houses which was the sign we were slowly approaching the semi-rural life, at one house in the outdoor space there were five kids who were fighting to drink from a bottle of water, it was just funny to observe them how cute as well as ‘naughty’, see below:

Here at this point our trekking turned into a walking down to the village of Ta Giang Phing, because we end up being on concrete narrow road which meant the beginning of the conventional civilization had taken over 😦 all the second day trekking lasted about four and half hours.

We stop at a typical open-air Vietnamese tavern to enjoy a pork noodle soup spice with lime, chili and mint!

All in all, this is an experience I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to get away from the agitation of the conventional civilization, it is worthy for the money, moreover if personally I were to travel back to SaPa, I would surely go for a motorbike tour off the beaten track.

As for the tour agent trips, check out their website here below:
http://sapaochau.org/sapa-trekking-and-homestay/

Any remark is welcomed!

Giuseppe

MALANG: not only volcanoes but also waterfalls and hot-springs.

Dear explorers,

Malang is the name of the town as well as the region which is situated in the hearth of east Java land, this region like Banyuwangi  offers a variety of nature from volcanoes to plenty of waterfalls as well as hot-springs, most of them are not known by any foreign traveler  (I might have been the first brave guy getting there :-D).

Briefly, I summarize for you three key outdoor attractions which worth trip to this region:

  1. Night-Morning hiking trip to Bromo National park
  2. Waterfalls: Coban Putri , Coban Rais , Coban Talun and Coban Rondo
  3. Cangar (Hot-springs).

I personally made the decision to start the challenge with the touristy night-morning hiking to Bromo volcano, here you have two choices to get there:

  1. Rent a proper off-road motor-cycle
  2. Book a basic package tour through your accommodation provider

I went for the second option since I just arrived in Malang exhausted after a not-sleeping night spent on the train I found no time to look straightaway for a motorbike. What I could recommend is that if you want to ride a motorbike to Bromo, get a motorbike with off-road tires and be with a travel companion; secondly, ride very carefully especially at night-time since you will get to ride through a steep and hilly narrow road, moreover you will be passing through a Savanna,  the scenery will look like a desert at your eyes, once you arrive at the top viewpoint it will be very tricky to park your motorbike because of thousands of visitor will be getting there!

Even Bromo is very popular, it is worthy to go for it and practice your photo-shooting skills!  Look at the pictures and a video below:

After the night-morning challenge at Bromo national park, I was back in Malang and I just hang around some noodles restaurant and cafeterias to chill-out and get ready for the next adventures.

The following day as a first thing I decided to rent a motorbike from a rental point which was recommended by a local CS guy Makki, here below you have the google-link:            https://g.co/kgs/iCHqQV

The name of the lady owner is Ibu Larasati  and her whatsapp contact is +62 822-4040-1929 , she was kind as well as funny, since I ran a bit late with the time she came to my accommodation to deliver the motorbike, she greeted me with a warm hand-shake and then asked me for a picture with her (as usual in Indonesia) to cunningly promote her local business whose the link is mentioned below:

(for more details just check out https://wuzz-rental-motor-malang.business.site/ )

The motorbike itself was a brand-new Yamaha Aerox 150cc which was comfortable and powerful powerful to deal with the hills.

When I was all set, I started off the waterfalls mission which I listed before, in my opinion the most challenging one was Coban Rais because the path was really wild with rocks and flowing water streams in-between, so because all of that, a good practice would be to hike through the path with bare feet as most of Indonesian people do otherwise if you are picky with the waterproof shoes then you will get water inside and the result for your feet will be a way worse! So if you are not picky like me, just go by bare feet 🙂

The second thing was that in here I was just the only European alien, all the others were either locals or few guys from Singapore, when I reached the bottom of the waterfalls to record the scenery, some members of a numerous family approached me for few group-photos, YES, still here the alien is a news for them!

Finally, I dedicated the last half-day to Coban Talun and the Cangar hot-springs, none of those places were touristically touched, apparently only Bromo attracts the burden of foreigners and locals from Jakarta who come there for the weekend only for that purpose. I am not going to drill down into many details on those attractions, just you need to experience it personally, however here below you can check out few pictures taken by my Sony alpha 6000 camera:

In conclusion, spending in Malang three and half days is the minimum you could stay, it would be worthy to spend there even five days because I hadn’t much time to check for some spots in the town of Malang suggested by Ibu Larasati such as Kampung Warna which is a kind of street artist.

A special thank to Ibu, Makki and Iik who assisted me as local advisers and I wish I will travel there back soon in the future!

Feel free to comment and/or just ask for informations!

Giuseppe

Langkawi: one day spent on the waterfalls by facing troubles with the wild monkeys

One day later than the riveting kayaking experience that I described in my previous article, at a good morning time I went for the Temurun waterfalls which are situated in the north-west side of the island, although the way to get there might seem long and juicy I had no rush since after the kayaking this was just a chilling trip with some hiking involved 🙂

I arrived first at a sport which was characterized by red rocks and some water pools both at the bottom and top side of the rocks as shown below:

DSC04737

Being an attractive spot, I stop by, and I took some pictures of the scenery with the rocks on the left side of the road, meanwhile some monkeys were nearby among the rocks, they looked like they were just woke up from sleeping therefore hungry and seeking for food as they usually do over the morning time, they were moving around and me as a keen of recording ‘wild animals in action’, I started shooting some pictures as they were getting close; one of them came to the edge of the road, still I couldn’t resist in doing further practice by zooming in my lens to make a proper foreground for him so that I slightly stepped away from the motorbike I rode and guess what next?  He targeted the motorbike by jumping into it, so that he gave me a further chance to take one more picture of him sitting on the saddle of the motorbike! 😀

So far, everything may just look like funny and harmless, but as he jumped out of the motorbike he turned out with a funny and unpleasant joke, guess what?

He ripped off my smartphone which I accidentally left placed on the open slot-pockets of the motorbike, I’d have never imagined they would have grabbed my smartphone by believing that it was something eatable :O

My first reaction to such a funny ripping was to call the attention of the monkey to convince him to give up the booty, however there was nothing to do and instead he was turning into an aggressive way by showing off his teeth like to say ‘Do not dare to step into me otherwise I’ll bite you!’. Unfortunately there were no natural weapons to hunt him 😀 , moreover one more monkey joined the thief monkey so I was in minority, all I could do was to let them to go and hopefully he’d have left the smartphone somewhere on the red rocks! Our healthy life is always more important than a ripped smartphone, perhaps not all of us are aware of the fact that if bitten by a monkey you might get the HIV virus so now everybody knows it 😉

As a last but not the least attempt, I asked for help to an american guy who was by change riding down on the road, he didn’t think twice to support me, moreover he was very-skilled in climbing up and down through the red rocks, he managed to find the closed-cover of my smartphone but without it! OMG! They must have frighted hardly for my smartphone…unfortunately there was no track of the smartphone, so there wasn’t anything else the kind US guy could do for me 😦 and the monkeys were run away into upper-level jungle surrounding the rocks. I felt there was really nothing to do, on the other hand it wasn’t the end of the world.

In order to release myself from what happened, I went through the path of the waterfalls and I continued my photo-tour as best as I could, here below some amazing pictures:

After cooling down myself, I wanted to attempt again to look for my smartphone, this time I found at the red rock spot a local malay guy Gurkha who were stopping there by his motorbike, so I approached him to ask for some assistance, the goal was to get through the jungle where the monkeys ran away, however it didn’t appear to be feasible because there were lot’s of bushes and brambles spread-ed which made the jungle impenetrable for humans :O At this point, I decided to give it up and forget. So I smoothly finished my half-day trip and headed to the small town where I stayed in Langkawi and I bought a brand-new smartphone.

In conclusion, waterfalls scenery is always amazing, you’ll never regret it! When it comes to the wild monkeys in action the story changes: perhaps I was a naive, however I have seen many of them over my past journeys into the South-East Asia, but the ones I met in Langkawi are really aggressive and they pick-up everything what they find.

The learned lesson is: Never step away from your motorbike even shortly for just two meters by leaving any unattended valuable stuff when there are wild monkeys in action, they will attempt to rip off whatever they find on the front slot-pockets of your motorbike what exactly happened to me!

Short version: NEVER TRUST THE MONKEYS!

Everybody is welcomed to comment on it!

Giuseppe

Czech Republic: wine-surfing on the viticulture hills of Palava with Grand Finale

The autumn has come and it’s time to enjoy and talk about some great things to do in a geographic area located in the region of South-Moravia which is not-so touristically advertised.

The idea of such a great trip came from a Slovak guy Michal who is a dedicated guide for arranging guided-tours for hiking trips mostly in Slovakia. Considering that I used to live in Czech Republic, I was aware of about where we’d have gone for such a trip, so I joined his idea without thinking twice.

We were thirty of us altogether and we organized as small groups to arrive at the planned meeting point in Mikulov at a guest house where we all gathered and enjoyed a potluck-style dinner with BBQ and obviously some wine as  a welcome party phase.

The day after we started our challenge at a good morning time by first getting on a bus which the organizer booked only for us since altogether we were thirty people, it dropped us off close to the beginning of a hiking path which gets through the Devin hill shown below in the snapshot of the map:

Since the hiking trail wasn’t that long and intensive we got plenty of time on the way so that we decided to stop by a ruined fortress (4th landmark) which was a key-viewpoint since from such a spot we could take some great pictures of the surrounding scenery with the Palava lake, here below I show you two pictures to impress you with an idea:

All the way from Klentnice to Pavlov took us approximately two hours by counting that altogether we had three breaks in-between. The hiking wasn’t struggling on the purpose of the wine tasting session for which we got prepared by having a chilling lunch at a small typical Czech restaurant.

Winesurfing_n

Since I consider myself very cautious with the consumption of alcoholic beverages at this stage of my life, I decided of saving my energies for the wine tasting by not going for any pint of beer before that, moreover the mixture of alcoholic drinks is well-known as the mother of all bad-asses stomachache as well as headaches, so let’s be wise for one time: wine with wine and beer with beer! 😉

Soon after, we were done with the lunch we slowly walk to the small downtown of Pavolov where we found this funny small square with spreaded  pumpkins on the grass

Pavlov itself is the hearth of Palava and it’s pretty common to likely find private individuals who sell Burčák (Czech version of Must) every fifth metres, it’s the result of the partially fermented wine grape and it’s very sweet; so while walking up to the street we identified one advertised with a portable backboard and since we had still a gap of time before enjoying the proper wine tasting we stumbled into it, the owner, an old guy, turned up and served us with that on the glasses, the price is pretty inexpensive 20CZK for 2dcl, here again unlike many others did, I still resisted to such a sweet temptation and I waited for the proper wine instead, however if you never tried it don’t hesitate to go for it, I used to enjoy it on my past wine trips, just lately I’ve become a picky guy 😀

When the tasting time came, we got into the cellar of the winery and they offered us a taste of six different wines of which four were white wines and two rosé wines, some of those were kind of dry and some other a bit sweet. We were provided with a small set of appetizers as well as some water with lemon slices in order to clear off our mouth from the taste of the previous wine, for each of the six tasting sessions the owner provided us with some notions about the fermentation process. Our six tastings went quite fast, however the owner gave us the left wine of the opened wine bottles to let us to smoothly complete our entertainment. Here below a summary slide-show of our wine tasting:

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I was pretty satisfied with the tasting so that before leaving I decided to buy a selected bottle of white wine (Ryzlink vlašský) to bring home to be enjoyed for future culinary dinners 🙂 Among other things the selling price of 160CZK(about 6€) was out of questions pretty affordable. If you want to know more about the winery you can check it out at http://www.vinarstvitopolansky.cz/

After our first wine challenge was done, we were headed straight back to our accommodation to have a rest and get ready for our second challenge in the evening which the organizer called it as “The Grand Finale“, Yes, indeed, another accurate selection of white/rosé/red wines was waiting for us, provided with proper food which consisted of not only just appetizers but also plenty of cabbage soup and Czech goulash in honey sauce.

Obviously, we all were in a mood of completing the wine day celebration as much great as possible so everybody of us get read on time with the wine-drinking mood 😀

Personally, I have to admit that I have become quite a moderate drinker and knowing myself I preferred to give up enjoying just after 10pm, considering we started our 2nd challenge around 8pm. The food itself was pretty enough to fill in our stomachs but be careful of not filling your stomach just with appetizers, ensure you enjoy the wire with a proper meal instead 😉

The most interesting thing of the “Grand Finale” wine session was the fact that owner of the winery took us up to the rooftop terrace of the winery to tell us some history background of Mikulov as well as some legends, the funny thing was that the owner not only could also speak Slovak and Polish but also he ended up making some jokes out of those legends he told us which were mostly referred to the relationships between men and women during the middle-age. Of course I’won’t drill down on it now 😉 Just you need to lively experience it! Just check out https://www.penzion-mikulov.cz/ (Vinny Sklep Barta).

To sum it up, such a wine-surfing trip is worthy as long as is properly organized with a good balance between outdoor activities and chilling time, just drinking from the early day time is not a recommendable practice, so have first some physical activity and then chill-out, our health is to be respected as best as we can!

I hope I have given you enough hints to enjoy your future wine trip!

Everybody is welcome to leave any comment and/or ask for recommendations!

Eggiamp

ICELAND: Golden circle vs wild nature of the long Icelandic perimeter

It was the year 2011 when I and my Italian friend Walter made the decision to go for the amazing wild nature challenge in Iceland, even though my friend had in mind to travel somewhere in Asia, I felt I wanted to complete my geographical overview of the Scandinavian Europe, so as soon as I proposed him such an amazing Country he got soon convinced and excited without thinking twice since neither him nor me had never explored Iceland.

After doing some research, we first figured out that the most comfortable as well as not-so-touristy month would have been June, so we didn’t hesitate to book our flight tickets; as a second thing, we decided to rent a car with which we benefited a lot since we wanted to explore the nature along all the entire perimeter of Iceland by starting from Reykjavik and by heading first through the south and then to the north like a counterclockwise. When our journey time came close we found by a Couchsurfing group that an Indian traveler was by coincidence flying by the same air-line from Oslo as we did, so we met with him at Oslo airport and we all gave the chance to share our Icelandic experience all together, Yes, three is better than two!

Although the Golden Circle is well-known for its tourist attendance, it is still 100% worthy to be checked as a first approach to the wild Icelandic nature, it basically consists of six key-spots:

1. Thingvellir 2. Laugarvatn 3. Geysir 4. Gullfoss (waterfall) 5. Secret lagoon 6. Selfoss

Tengd mynd

As most of us know, Iceland is famous for the Geysers, Waterfalls, Lagoon and Hot Springs, like many people we couldn’t resist to the emotion of lively enjoy the eruption of a geyser, it was told us that these HOT spots regularly erupt approximately every four minutes: (a live video is available below)

Further to that, we hiked to the Gullfoss waterfalls: the scenery itself is breathtaking, just be aware that it is often hellish windy so be equipped with a proper wind-jacket or even better with a waterproof one (with cap), the wind is such strong that you’ll get pretty watered soon by the huge splashes of the waterfalls hitting the hiking path. Apart from that, all the way through was a great scenario just a pity that on that time I wasn’t yet provided with a proper camera, next time definitely it will!

 

Moving on the next day, here the greatest of Iceland comes: we planned out the route along all the perimeter by driving through the south first, we weren’t sure how far we’d have been able to go at the end of the day, however we managed to arrive in Egillstadir around 10pm so we decided to sleep out overnight and the day after drive further through the north side. Here below there’s a summary of the key-stops we took through the south way:

  1. Selfoss
  2. Skogafoss (waterfalls)
  3. Anonymous spot with cliffs and high-waves sea with grey sand
  4. Vik
  5. Jökulsárlón (Icebergs)
  6. Egillstadir  

We started our trip at 10am, considering that the 3rd spot is pretty hidden and so we had to look for it, I’d say we had checked enough spots over the day 🙂

I will be focused from the 3rd place on: the purpose behind such an anonymous place was that we wanted to record some Puffins as we were told that there are many of them on the part of the coast which faces the small Vestmannaeyjar island, unfortunately we had no luck in catching one, probably wrong spot or wrong moment, who knows? 🙂 The only sure thing was that the wind was  such overwhelming that we had to open the car doors by strongly holding those by hand! We did struggle a lot in hiking through a cobbled path to the cliffs but we made it and we survived!

 

Of course we weren’t enough satisfied so we kept driving further to Jökulsárlón by stopping in Vik for a re-cognitive pause, the first signs of tiredness were coming up but nevertheless I kept the lead of the steering wheel and even slowly we arrived at our 4th stop 🙂 If the average temperature in the Icelandic country-side is +12°C over June, at Jökulsárlón is +2°C or less, so don’t be surprised!

 

After that, despite getting more and more tired we could never resist to stop by at some particular spots and moreover the roads in Iceland have narrow lanes and any wandering wild animal can suddenly cross the road at any moment, as a result of that, we didn’t manage to make more than 70km per hour, here the explanation why we arrived at Egillstadir around 10:30pm which actually was the worst time since every food bazar even the ones at the petrol stations were closed but still we had some food and drinks and we could re-fill the tank of the car by self-service. Our questionable point was: where to sleep?  Here our possible choices:

  1. Just in the car
  2. Outside with the sleeping bags
  3. By randomly asking somebody to be accommodated

Apart from us, nobody was around, so we felt like all we could do was either to ring some bells at the Icelandic people houses or just sleep in the car which we actually did! Our next day started very early, since we could not sleep properly we took up driving at 2:00am and we checked out the following itineraries of the Northern Iceland:

1. Myvatn

2. Akureyri

3. Glaumbauer museum

4. Kattarhryggur                                                                                                                                    

I can say that Myvatn is the least touched natural attraction, it was just a pity that by the time we checked it we were still not recovered by our tiredness but instead we had to stop again and keep sleeping what actually we did.

Finally, after three more hours of sleeping we were in a shape to enjoy the next, we drove to Akureyri where we stop for having a pleasant coffee with some sweets and walk around. I’m not going to drill down into many details about this small nice town, all I recommend you is to have a chilling visit at the Botanic park which is worthy.

 

At the final stage of our perimeter tour on the way to the North-west we realized a farm house with turf houses in which there is the Glaumbauer museum, the main characteristic of this place is that over the summer you can sleep in one these houses and as for the museum itself it is just representation about the rusty style how the farm houses are equipped, just visit it!

Before getting close to Reykjavik our attention get caught by Kattarhryggur, here there’s hiking path to the crater a volcano, yes that’s right Iceland is a volcanic island, don’t forget that! Of course we hiked till the top of the crater which was impressing the contrasting panorama between it and the rest of fabulous surrounding nature!

 

In conclusion, the total perimeter of the Iceland is about 1300km assuming you mostly follow the road no.1, but of course you can make it even longer and juicier! So unless you are in a rush with the time and you have the freedom to escape for a while from the ordinary city-life, I’d strongly recommend to plan your journey to Iceland much longer than just one week (as we did), two weeks at least, but ideally one month! Both Southern and Northern Iceland are  very demanding,  we just regretted of not having had much time to be dedicated.

Naturally, if you’re going there for a travel expedition then that’s another brilliant story!

Enjoy your future Icelandic trip!

Every comment and remark is warmly welcomed!