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The first ever.

This is the post excerpt.

I’m very knew to the blogging thing. But I’ve recently been turned on to the idea of noting down my experiences of both travelling and conservation works which I am becoming more and more involved in. And who knows maybe also adding in any interesting trips and photos from climbing trips.

So for the first post I thought I should mention a conservation work day I took part in Monday 13th. This wasn’t the first time I’ve volunteered for a outdoor work. Previous work days, however, have been much more comfortable. Back down south and in the summer, where the work days consisted of being outdoors in the sun with a nice, bright green, polo teacher and thin leggings. Up in Snowdonia there was no chance of a nice sunny day, this is the middle of March.

But the cold and rain wasn’t enough to put me off a nice morning walk to the Yellow Pub in the centre of town and get a lift into Snowdonia to Capel Curig. A nice small town with a great cafe I consider a God send when just finishing a long walk in the rain. The purpose: to plant trees. More specifically locally grown trees on a rather barren section in between two branches of ancient woodland.

The trouble is that this area of land is still used for grazing, so any newly sprouting tree would be eaten in five seconds flat. To overcome this the trees we planted were slightly older than usual, this is to make them tall enough to not become easy prey. The landscape was also used as a way of protecting the trees without the use of fences to block off important grazing areas.

Using the land means that if there is any very steep hill where, from experience, you could easily slip almost all the way down you should plant a tree. I don’t think I’ll ever get the mud out of my trousers, coat or gloves. But that’s a sidetrack. The tree should be planted at a right angle to ensure it isn’t munched.

Using the land also included getting up close a personal to Gorse (the plant not the bird). A nasty little shrub which has bright yellow flowers and spiky little leaves which can get you despite the thick walking trousers, the leggings, the thick coat, the thermals and the fleece. But still its the best place to plant the trees, with the very tops angled to be right over the top of the patch of Gorse.

Overall it was a really rewarding day where 100 trees were planted, though a small number for a days work by conventional planting standards, it is a decent amount for the method we were using. In preliminary evaluations of this method i was told that the success rate is around 60-70%. But not only the rewarding feeling of adding another tree I also learned a lot about what soils the plants prefer and how to identify the different samplings.

Snowdonia Mountain Range
An example of the beautiful surroundings I found my self in on a dreary Monday. Though I usually hate Mondays, this one was brilliant.

Luxembourg City

The tiny capital city with a high number of hills and a vast amount of beauty. Ordinarily going to this tax haven there may be issues with learning about this city. I, however, was very lucky, as I shall explain.

When arriving at the hostel; I opened the dorm door to two Canadians from Newfoundland, infact they work for the same university. Just on different campuses. One of them had met a travel blogger who was from the region and invited us to join her to get some food. How could I say no?

We walked for at minimum for three And a half hours (annoyingly I forgot to turn on my pedometer). We saw almost all of the city. The Philharmonic building and looked out over the city, the view from the platform at the top of the free glass lift (a must) the towers and walls from the many times the city has changed hands. The buildings where revolutions started, where the rich spend their money and where people go on the weekend to spend a few hours in an old building with loud music and expensive drinks.

The city is impressive the building and expansion of fortresses and their streets with many different styles smattered across the city. Looking at the rooves helps, from there you can work out when the building was built and who by.

The next day I enjoyed a lovely run in the city with the old sites taking away from the burning in the lungs and the hot pain of a stitch. The birds help drowned out the internal screaming of “why did I say id do this?!”. After the run I headed to the caves under old walls and fortresses. Like the city it has been greatly expanded over the years. At it’s night is spanned 46km but now only 17.

You could easily get lost in these tunnels, so I’m glad that I had the company of one of the the Canadian girls. But it was pretty cool. And not just temperature wise (it was indeed a nice relief). We met up with the second girl and went to get food in a nice pub with some great falafel. Whilst there we met two other girls from our dorm (2 Londoners on their first trip) well it is indeed a small city.

The next day was the trip to Brussels and that will be a rollercoaster just you wait.

Zürich

The small city of 400,000 isn’t the capital of Switzerland though it is the largest city. After arriving I crossed the beautifully cool looking water on a day when I finally found some nice weather.

The city is a mess of small beautiful cobbled streets. As you can imagine google maps was heavily relied on here. The first day I arrived in the being and got food. One thing I did not expect is how expensive the place is. £25 for a risotto, fortunately I don’t think you can go wrong here all the food looked amazing. The cheese, the wine, the pasta, the pizza, the meat, and even the tofu.

The next day i jumped on a free walking tour run by a few locals. Learning about the history of the city: their state flags how they became one nation, and how women in the 13th century played a large role in the decision making of the city.

Fun fact: the Vatican’s swiss guard got it’s name from the swiss previously being highly train, highly expensive mercenaries which were employed by anyone with a lot of cash. A rather large contrast from today. But because of their large amount of support for the Vatican each state received their own flag and the guard was named after them.

The next day I got the go ahead for the paragliding. Fortunately the dismal weather had cheered up on my second to last day. I wandered about till the afternoon where my heart jumped into my throat when boarding a train to a near by town just out side Zurich.

This sensation got worse the closer to the jumping point. Up until I met Yosh a nice guy who really settled my mind. He explained how we were really safe and how we had a good say for it i.e. not too violent. Unfortunately we needed some more up drafts to stay in the air for longer than 15 minutes. A shame but at the same time as you have to go in circles to get the most of the up drafts then you start to feel a little ill.

Still worth it though.

Once landing I wandered through a small swiss town. It was beautiful and so semi it looked like a nun should syltart singing on one of the hills. I jest. But if you can get over the smell it would be a lovely place to live.

Afterwards I nipped to the chineese garden: it was lovely but a bit small fortunately it’s not expensive to enter.

As it was still relatively early I though I’d cross off another country on my list and head to Lichtenstein. It was nice though the trouble of arriving late meant I had no way to get cash and nothing was open. But the town was picture perfect and the people lovely. Only to be topped by the mountains right on their dorr step and surrounding them on almost every side.

Getting back was however a nightmare trains are far from reliable in the evening but I finally made it back and got more street food as all the resteraunts had stlhut up. Oh well. I shall put it down as an experience.

Until next time.

München

Another dismal train ride. Yay. But here I will focus on brighter times (sometimes): Munich.

The constant walking, early starts and little sleep means I am well beyond the bounds of tired and solidly entrancing myself into exhaustion. So after arriving at my lovely hostel with my lovely bed in Munich I decided I could really use a nap.

Three peaceful hours later I grabbed food at the train station on the street over and headed to Munich’s Tollwood festival. This is a biannulaly semi perminant festival in the Olympic park. There are loads of good carts with door from every corner. Bars with amazing beer and small live music acts which are fantastic. A hippie rent with a silent disco and middle aged women thouroughly enjoying themselves. But there are also performances by larger bands (of course a small fee is therefore charged) and by theatre groups.

On the first evening I watched the amazing Cirque Aïtal. An acrobatics duet which is both humorous and had dropping with their skill. On a side note though I didn’t bring a jacket and whilst “queuing” it poured it down soaking me. Rather amusing as I look back in sure, though I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet.

The next day i had booked a bus to the Neuschwanstein castle: I highly recommend Flixbus they’re reliable and pretty cheap. I have read reviews and has been informed of the extortionate prices of the castles entrance with little information within them. So unrest I walked around them, I think it was the wise option with a line just to get in I would never be able to make it back for the gig that evening. The views are spectacular in themselves.

As I wondered I spotted a little cabin in the later of the lake, hopping a fence I went to explore. I sat on my private section of the beautiful lake, relaxation at its finest.

As I relax a pedle boat meandered over captained by an Aussie and a Scott. They asked if I was stuck, I joked saying i was well capable of getting back but might I have a lift to the other side of the lake. They happily obliged. My first hitch hike right there. We got chatting and it turns out they were also heading back to munich, and with no return ticket pre-booked I took them up on the offer of a lift back. What I didn’t expect was a brand new Mercedes with TVs in the back and heated massage seats. My second hitch hike was in style.

Once back i met my room mate a nice guy from Spain but with my Spanish non-existant and his english limited, conversation relied on Google translate many religions and hand gestures. After feeling increadably awkward I left for the Django 3000 gig. That was certainly amazing great lights great atmosphere and a jacket which I had on me so that I didn’t freeze like the previous day.

The next day was the journey to Zurich.

Wien (Vienna)

So once again I fail myself on consistent writing. So I decide to catch up on the train.

Vienna is a beautiful city with a lot of sites to see. The first day however I arrive in the early evening from a long day of travel and so I was uninterested in any of these.

Instead I made friends with the girls in my dorm I admit it was rather intimidating at first. But they were lovely and three also got to a university in Wales. WOOP. They’re out for three weeks and should be finishing their last week now I think. After the initial awkward conversation starters we all settled into the conversation. They invited me out to dinner, and of course I accepted. After amazing pizzas, risotto and undercooked pasta we headed back.

I’ve found that there are only two hostel beds: One as hard as a wooden board, the other soft a pillow with a significant amount of stuffing pulled out. In vienna it was the latter. Every hostel I go to seems to alternate.

The next morning i woke early and wanted to get started I left the girls to wander around on my own. A lot of wondering that day. Saw sights That I had missed on my initial trip. This time I defiantly feel more accomplished.

Over the next three days I saw lots: the beautiful butterfly house, the desert and plant rooms as the large palace further out from the centre, oddly shaped buildings and cafe area, the parks with amazing statues of horses and people (like Motzart) as well as great icecream, a small ensemble of musicians playing the classics.

A highlight though was defiantly the museum of music. A really interactive and fun museum. Highly recommended to anyone.

The last day was a luxurious train to Munich, didnt even have to wake up too early either.

Bovec

Well I promised quick succession and I haven’t done that I fund myself too exhausted to do anything once I get back to my bunk. However the Bavarian countryside has instilled a ish to write.

Leaving Zagreb was an early start up at half five and what not catch the train through to Jesenice where a replacement bus service (yes seems that every countries train service just hates it’s users) back to bled (the previous station) to get a train to Most Na Soči. But wait not done yet. We then hung around outside the train station I attempted to use non-existant German to ask about a bus to Bovec, pretty sure that bus was gonna start with auto but I may be entirely wrong. The nice confused woman then directed me to a man who had a slight knowledge of English (a god send). We then caught the bus (over an hour long) thankfully it was more of a coach with delightful air con. I quickly fell asleep and woke up in Bovec.

We headed to the shop for supplies for the next day as well as directions to the hostel as Google maps washing being particularly helpful.

After arriving and putting all our stuff in the  lockers, which could break a toe, we headed to a resteraunt we were promised to receive 10% discount on cause of our wristbands. Turn out you need to inform them before you even order. Hmmm. Disapoiting. After we walked into the town to fund out the times of our activities over the next couple of days. The told us 1 and 9 and that we could get picked up. I set a reminder and we wondered back.

The sleep that night was initially terrible. Our two room mates snore like chainsaws that you can hear from down the hall way (it was louder than the thunder through an open window). After trying to sleep through it for over an hour we spent the next hour asking for a new room having to explain it multiple times. Trust me we had little sleep the previous night and an early morning if there was anyway we could be asleep we would be.

The next day we had just eaten breakfast when we get a call at 9:15am asking where we were. I was confused, turns out it was the activity place telling us we weren’t at the 9am meet to which is well yeah cause were going at one. A confusing convo later and were gonna get picked up to go canyoning at half nine instead. Don’t know. Really don’t know.

But canyoning was amazing sliding down rocks into pools jumping off. The water so nice and cold it gave me brain freeze. That more than made up for the boiling hike up to the top in a bikini which defiantly didn’t have the right amount of support. It was exhilarating and gotta be my favorite, And highly recommended. The last drop was down a very large waterfall to dangerous to jump from the top so our guide lowered us down in a harness and then dropped us half way up. Much to our surprise when they said drop I thought lightly place.

After we made food and ate at the hostel before leaving for a massive hole to a pretty waterfall. After many untruthful detors hoping to be short cuts we made it hung out there for a bit then marched home. Where we were way too tired to make food so we went to a nice resteraunt and got a cheap burger.

The nextday I received another call asking where we were again. I was confused if we were told 1 and 9 and yesterday we went at nine surely that means we mixed the times up. No. We had gotten the times right but they decided to change them at their own liking. So obviously we weren’t ready. So we got to go rafting at one instead.

It was picture perfect. The brilliant blue water the multiple groups going down a calm ish river though there were some rough moments like crashing directly into a rock (our captain’s isea of fun) which sent my flying out of my seat. We also go to jump down an over turned raft from a high up rock. Unfortunately the wet suits meant that your frequently get stuck half way up. But the best jump came later, on Manhattan rock. A rock maybe 10m high maybe more. I climbed up, pumped. A stupid grin  (which I’m currently replicating just thinking about it) all over my face. Once at the top and edge that was replaced by that sinking feeling of you f*@#%ng idiot why do you do these things. A sensation tightened by the leader saying you have to jump away not just fall cause you could land on a rock. Lovely. But I didn’t hit a rock and the thrill was awesome even if my head hurt from a torrent of cold water rushing straight up my nose.

And then relax during the afternoon feet still killing from the previous day.

A couple beers at the pub (way off the main area of the town) and we headed back to the hostel packed and got ready for the 50€ taxi ride at 7:15 to take us to Most Na Soč (should’ve thought about the accessibility of Bovec when we planned to leave on a sunday).

Alice and I split at Jesenice. I continued onto Vienna and Alice refining to Scottland.

All in all a good first week on the road but now for a solo project.

Zagreb

I haven’t been keeping this regular in any way. I told myself that after egg destination I would write a bit about it. But I ended up not doing so on the SECOND destination.

So to make up for it I will do two in quick succession, starting with….you guessed it Croatia.

The train was long (8 hours from Belgrade to Zagreb) and highly uncomfortable. The windows shut, no air con…in over 30 degree heat I must add, small seats with little leg room and no where to buy food. I know I know I’m whining but even thinking about that sweat box makes me angry. Fortunately the car behind us had individual sections and lots of open windows. So many of the lot trapped in economy class would loiter and hang out the windows of the facier car’s corridor.

After arriving at Zagreb it was a short 5 minute walk to our hostel. Great location only a ten minute walk into old town with all of the bars and resteraunts whilst still being close to the train station. No one wants to carry a heavy bag more than is necessary. The first night we found a vegitarian resteraunt called Vegehop. Their burger were amazing as was their Moussaka was amazing. That evening we relaxed got to know a few people around the hostel including a nice Londoner names Peter. More on him later.

The next day we went out to lake Jarun a really nice man made lake with a little island where a festival was happening. No idea wish that had cropped up in my multiple searches for events in Zagreb. But there we are.

We jumped on the tram for around an hour walked through a pretty neighbourhood and onto the stony beach. Music blasting from across the water we laid in the sun…for all of ten minutes before realising that us Brits burn way too easy to stay their for too longer time. Thus created musical rocks which involved shifting from no shade to partial shade to full on shade as the need arose. The water was really nice though crystal clear so you could see the little fish dotted about.

After a dunk to cool off from the sunbathing we decided to get a cocktail at the bar just behind us I got a sex on the beach, and Alice got a long island ice tea by another name. Whilst sipping on the lovely and CHEAP mixed drinks we saw many people wandering up in sports bikinis the type beach volleyball players wear. We were intrigued. Turns out the European beach handball championships are held there once a year. And as there’s no need to pay to watch we stuck around to gander at Poland vs France, Norway vs Sweden and Switzerland vs Italy (all women’s), and the men’s arched of Spain vs Poland and Norway vs France. Surprisingly enough the UK was not represented. Which got me thinking maybe I could start my own UK team I mean clearly were already terrible how much worse can some plucky rag-tag team be?

That evening we met up with some new arrivals and Peter for a spot of light drinking followed by a walk to a local open air gig in the city’s old town. The plan was drink from nine leave at half nine. Well half nine rolled around so quater to was set as the next leaving time. Which came and went finally we left at quater past ten and meandered our way to the gig where we heard two songs before every thing shut up shop. And women are sterotyped as the ones who can’t leave: Alice and I were waiting forever for the guys to pull their finger out and get moving.

The second full day in Zagreb included visits to the museums of illusion and torture as well as an attempt at getting into their cathedral but as were not one of the women on the walls we cant show our thighs.  The ullsusions were really good, couldn’t do any of the puzzles though.

After the torture meshes which was all of three dingy put rooms (seems the Croatians didn’t like gossip, or witches). We visited the Maksimir park he largest in the city with forested areas open fields and a zoo. We lounged around in the shade on the benches and hiding in the shade.

On the way back to the hostel we got caught in a heavy down fall that soaked us through. Though it was defiantly a summer storm, for which I have a fondness of. Very loud thunder and torrential rain. It was awesome.

The following day was an early start at half five (half an hour after the festival goers got back in) and onto Slovenia.

Београд (Belgrade)

I left the UK on the 17th for Serbia, a nice evening flight meant no early mornings. Setting off at half four I found my self a little underwhelmed as though I didn’t really grasp the excitement of my first (kinda) I’ll trip. Though what I did find is that I’m terrible with jackets having forgotten it quater of an hour into the journey and having to turn back.

The flight was rather cramped with no leg room (and I’m 5’6!) But once landing at half 11 it hit me I’m somewhere I’ve never been far away from my little island…this is going to be amazing. This displayed itself as being overly smiley and talkative.

That evening was quiet, I find flying sucks it out of me, and with Alice already in PJs the exploring would wait.

The next day we unsuccessfully navigated our way to a lebbonese resteraunt instead settling for “Big Pizzza” and a salad. After that a twenty minute walk through the cloudy pedestrian zone to the Belgrade Fortress. Where it decided to chuck it down with semi fine rain that soaked through my jeans and airy shoes. But us Brits *posh accent* carry on. Exploring the old fort, climbing up a small tower and looking out over what I can only assume was once a moat. Walking through the eerie cold war bunker, listening to an Amy Whinehouse cover band, and sitting on the walls of the fort looking out on to the rivers Sava and Danube.

After we got lost carried on back tracked and found our way we stopped at a great cafe and got cake and tea…it was so nice we returned later. After drying off a bit we walked passed then in the Tesla museum. It was great, my favourites: getting zapped and the lightning from the magnifying transmitter.

The next day was the train to Zagreb, where I’m currently writing from. Long trip of 8 hour in a hot car (nearly windows open why I have no idea), though you could escape to the car behind which had the individual compartments and lots of windows! Woo! But all suffering comes to an end and we finally made it.

So onwards to explore a land I have never touched before. And try to put aside the world cup from a few years back when they knocked us out….grr.