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Ticking all our boxes in Levi, Lapland – part 2

Here we are again in Levi, Lapland! Ready for the second part? Although, I still don’t have any words that can describe our first three days, the next four days will make it even harder. Before I start off, if you missed part 1, you can click here.

Dutch people on a fatbike

Tuesday was our “free” day. First we had the idea to go cross-country skiing, but since not everyone was jumping up in the air with that news, we decided that doing a fatbike trial would be quite exciting as well (and oh it was!!). I looked for a trail. Eventually, the one I chose would take us to South-Point and was 9,9 km. We thought to go to South Point, have lunch and then go back. Everyone agreed, so after we rent the electric fatbikes we were ready to go.

Less than 10 minutes later, the fun started. Following the path/trail was quite easy, because there weren’t many other choices as you can see on the pictures below, however, no one had really told us (or we hadn’t asked anyone) about the difficulty of the trail. Of course the trail was slippery (it’s still snow). Because although, the tires had a better profile than a normal cycle, we were still skidding – especially when we were doing down. After some more minutes when the trail became more difficult because of the hills (they were quite steep), we were using our rear brake less in order to ensure not to fall. Well, that didn’t always workout (especially for my sister). The first times we laughed our asses off. Gladly, the snow gives you a soft landing!

It was getting more difficult and more difficult. Fortunately, the scenery was so breathtaking that it was all good. However, around a kilometer of five, Dianne her chain fell off and some pieces were even broken. Because of that, her gears didn’t work anymore. We had some stress since we were in the middle of nowhere on a hill. Fingers crossed we could go further and we could! My dad and brother put her chain back on. It would only get harder for Dianne to cycle since the hills weren’t getting any lower.

Although we thought we could make the 9,9 kilometers easily, well, we were very wrong. It took us around an hour to arrive at the five kilometer point (of cours, with a delay of 15 minutes). We were exhausting, had to focus and concentrate. My mom and sis fell the most, they were so done. It was quite funny to see them struggling and, although we kept motivating each other to continue, it was like the kilometers weren’t getting any less.

After two hours we finally arrived at South Point. Since there was only one way which meant that we had to go back the same way, we had already decided that we would ask at South Point if we could leave the bikes there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t but the woman from the shop told us that we could ride back to Levi along the road so that we wouldn’t have to go through the hills to arrive back in Levi. At that point, we were getting so extremely cold (it was -24) + it was getting dark as well (13:30). We decided not to take lunch and ride back to Levi. This was a 20 minute ride.

Falling, cold and fun; the fatbike adventure in three words.

We had never been in such trans before. Just looking forward, just going on and don’t stop until we were back in Levi. You cannot imagine how happy we were to arrive back at the apartment. A warm shower was everything we wanted!

Sledging with the Northern lights in Levi

You will not believe it, but after we warmed up and had dinner, us (the kids) went outside to finish the day with some sledging. Again, we were lucky – oh so lucky. This time it was intense and much. Still, this is all within 10 minutes. The Northern lights changes every second. Sledging was never so fun. Another fun fact: We really had to use our snow goggles with sledging, it was so cold that if we didn’t wear them, we couldn’t see anything while going down.

We thought we had experienced cold in Levi…

Another snowmobile tour. It was, again, an amazing activity, especially because our speed wasn’t locked this time and we could go as fat as we wanted. I loved it! The fastest I went and could see was 70 kilometer an hour when we crossed the lake. Although, today was the coldest day of all week (-30 degrees) and everything felt and was frozen, it was amazing. The view, as well. We saw the sunrise and sunset just within two hours, couldn’t be better.

When handwarmers are lifesavers

Thursday, we did something I had mixed feelings for. We had the husky tour and although, I know that the animals are treated right and the caregivers give so much love and have so much passion for their work, the last time we did this, I got so cold that I let some tears. So this time, I couldn’t be more prepared; three layers for my legs, seven layers for my upper body and feet and handwarmers to keep them warm.

You share the mobile with one other person and when you are with 2 people you have six dogs in front of you (I was alone so had five dogs). One person stands for 50 minutes and the other one is sitting. After 50 minutes you change. The one that is standing has the job to use the breaks when needed. The dogs are so enthusiastic, they just want to go, so using the breaks was a MUST. 🙂

After we came back, we got some berry juice and a cookie again. Of course, there were puppies. We same some whom were just six weeks old. Sooooo cute, were the only two words we heard the first 5 minutes ha-ha.

It was lovely! And also good to hear that they were very transparent about how the dogs are treated and how much they work and trained. Although, doing this is in their blood, it still feels good and of course, it is important to know that it is all well.

Dinner with -6

My dad came with a new fun activity that we hadn’t done the last time; dinner at the restaurant of the ice hotel. We had visited the ice hotel the last time though. It was interesting to see and hear how they set it up and all, but we never really wished to sleep there. I still don’t. However, dinner at the restaurant was an option, a new experience, so we agreed. There was a set menu from which we could choice from and of courseee reindeer meat was on it.

We can tell! Eating with your gloves on makes it quite difficult to eat with knive and fork. We laughed a lot. I guess we had to, because eating for 1,5 hour in -6 is not really something for human beings I think. I was so cold! The food was delicious, although, the reindeer meat wasn’t very popular. I had a white fish, risotto and as dessert an almond cake. Delicioussss.

Visiting Comet before we head home

So, this was the last activity on our list. There was no luck of Northern lights anymore, so we enjoyed this one to the fullest, before we would head home for Christmas. I’m flyinggg home for Christmas, was what I said. But we couldn’t go home before I had seen Comet, my favourite reindeer. Since my childhood, I am (we are all actually) such a fan of the films Santa Claus with Tim Allen. Comet has a special role in the second film. You don’t know it? Watch the film!

We went by bus to a reindeer farm and saw two wild ones on the way. Did you know that there are living more reindeers in Finland than people? Insane right! And did you know that reindeers are like gold for the Sámi’s (the original inhabitants of Lapland)? A Sámi would probably never tell you how many reindeers he has. It is like asking how much money he owns. Another thing, most of the reindeers life in the wild. However, since they still belong to Sámi do they all have a barcode on their antlers so that the Sámi knows if it is his reindeer. Fun right! 🙂

Our Levi, Lapland adventure is hereby finished. We closed our book. It is good. We ticked all our boxes from the list. This was it and it couldn’t have been any better. I must say: “Yes, it isn’t cheap, but if you can save the money, I tell you, it is all worth it! Go to Lapland people. This is another world, those places feel like you are living another life.

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Ticking all our boxes in Levi, Lapland – part 1

This Lapland trip was one we will never forget. One everyone deserves to experience (you only must love/enjoy the cold). This trip was one of a kind. Although, we had already visited Levi before, this time the +1’s joined us. We had so much fun and experienced crazy things. Read on to get to know all.

A powerbank delay

Since we booked the trip with Buro ScanBrit, we didn’t have any influence on the time of the flights. Our departure was at 5:30 which meant that we were picked up at 2:30 in the morning. But, as the regular readers know, we don’t do morning moods.

A little COVID-19 update. You can enter Finland with two vaccins. In shops and cafes we had to wear masks, and all restaurants asked for the Corona Check + ID.

We only had some delay because of my little sis and two other people. It was because you aren’t allowed to have your powerbank in your suitcase anymore. They didn’t know. Before we were boarding a woman spoke through the intercom telling us that if people still had their powerbank in their suitcase they should tell them so they still had time to take the suitcase out.

All people boarded and my sister and I were waiting for her suitcase. They came with my suitcase instead and for as the two others, they got the suitcases of their parents. The staff had to return with the three suitcases to the airplane and search for the correct ones. You can probably imagine, they weren’t very happy… Another thing, my sister had the same suitcase as the girlfriend of my brother (she lent it to her), only my sister put a bow on hers. Thank god, she did. Because therefore, they could find her suitcase much quicker. After all, the powerbanks were taken out of the suitcases and we were ready to go!! Three hours in the plane, just sleeping and sleeping.

Settling down in Levi, Lapland

Levi, Lapland is located above the Arctic Circle. Therefore, there is mainly only “sun” during the winter months between 11:00 and 13:00. The rest of the day it is either dim or dark plus it has one hour of difference with the Netherlands. After we arrived and were taken by the bus from the airport of Kittilä to Levi which took 20 minutes, we settled in the apartment and relaxed for some time. My mom brought all sort of Christmas decorations and after we had done some groceries, we all helped decorating the apartment. The guys also searched for a Christmas tree, only they were so expensive (around 200 euro’s) that they obviously thought “never mind”. Never the less, the apartment was very much in a Christmas vibe.

Testing the Finnish slopes

The next day, it was the birthday of my brother. He became 28 years old. We went for skiing, with the five of us. Dianne (the girlfriend of my brother) is still learning to snowboard and since my dad cannot ski anymore because of his hip, he went with her to the easy slope.

Levi has the largest ski resort in Finland. Compared to Austria or Italy it is nothing, but I must say, these slopes were amazing! Because there was almost no one, the slopes were as new and they were either blue or red. Lots of techniques training! I told my mom before we went on vacation that it was really my dream so ski with the sunset and well, there he was. The first box on my Lapland list was ticked and this was just the beginning. 🙂

After around 3 hours, when we had gone around the mountain, we couldn’t handle the cold anymore so we met my father and Dianne for a hot chocolade and pizza at the restaurant of the Panorama Hotel. When we got warm again, we skied for another 20 minutes and decided we were done for the day. We were going out for dinner, for my brother’s birthday after all, so we all needed to change and make ourselves ready. We had dinner at our favourite restaurant, El Colorado, where I had the best vegetarian burger in my lifeeee.

My brother got the best birthday present ever

My brother’s dinner party only got a little interrupted by the Northern lights. I must give a little background information here. So, six years ago when we were in Levi, we didn’t see the Northern lights. Well, a tiny bit, but we didn’t find it enough to tell people we really saw it. Back then and now, as well, we had several apps telling us the probabilities of the Northern lights (Aurora) with the time etc. You then receive a push notification when the probability is high enough to see it in your region (IF the sky is clear). Before dinner the probability was around 10%, however, during dinner it increased to 28% and it was expected to have a probability of 45% 30 minutes later. You can imagine, I freaked out!

There was a British family next to us and it got on their nerves, too. Several times you saw them leaving the restaurant to check if they could see the Northern lights already. Eventually, they left + their plates as well, because they were still filled with food. Not by any surprise, we left before dessert… Hurried home, changed into termo pants and ski suits. We walked for around 25 minutes from the village away, just straight on and randomly went into a path, hoping it would lead us to an open place We found it! Not much later, my brother got the best birthday present everrr and one of my biggest dreams became true. I will let you enjoy the pictures first, before I talk further.

Yes, what you see is real. Can you believe it? Because I still cannot. I left quite some tears, thanking my parents for such a blessing life with highs and lows but most of all much love. After several photoshoots, some Jägermeister for the adrenaline, cuddles and laugher, we went back to apartment.

I got a lot of questions in my DM on Instagram about the quality of the pictures. All pictures of the Northern lights were taken with the Iphone 13 and aren’t edited. Only one person of the group had the Iphone 13, the rest had Iphone 12. We could clearly see big differences of quality between the two phones, and therefore, only Iphone 13 was used.

I slept so bad that night. I just couldn’t believe that we saw it. At breakfast, Dianne told me that she had the exact same moment as I had: I woke up at night, still confused and not being able to believe it really happened. So, I took my phone and looked at the pictures we took, just to make sure it really was real. Just surreal + another box ticked from my Lapland list.

Yes, what you see is real. Can you believe it? Because I still cannot.

The day after

Monday morning was relaxed. Although, we were just in Lapland for three days, it felt like we had already been there for like a week. It was a weird feeling, but a good one, since we were having so much fun and still had so much to do. During the afternoon we took a long walk around and over the lake. We thought that it would be around 45minutes, but eventually, we walked more than 2hours. Powernapping afterwards was a hit! The scenery was beautiful and so worth it though.

The last activity of the day (+ the last part of the first blog) was an evening snow scooter trip. The last time we were in Levi, I didn’t have a driver’s license yet, so I wasn’t allowed to take a ride on the snow scooter. Oh, I was so excited! + as you can see on the pictures below, I am wearing a red/black suit. This is the ski suit we got from Lapland Safari’s, the company which has a partnership with Buro ScanBrit. Lapland Safari’s has all the equipment you need, boots/gloves/socks etc. However, I wouldn’t only depend on their clothing since only wearing some layers isn’t enough (most times). So, we wore our own ski suit, termo, sweater, etc. and over that we did the suit of Lapland Safari’s. And no, I wasn’t cooking from the inside. It was -23 degrees. 🙂

During our ride we got a little disappointed. We are race monsters and wanted to go fast, however, since there were little children with the tour guide we couldn’t go faster than 40 kilometer per hour. Eventually, we thought we were being clever and left lots of space between the person in front of us to be able to make some speed. However, we all had the same problem. We couldn’t go faster than 46/48 kilometer per hour. We assumed they probably locked it. A pity!

After one hour, we arrived in the middle of nowhere. There was a very cute tiny cottage with a campfire. The two tour guides told us that the chance for the Northern lights was quite low. So, we all went inside, got some berry juice (something typical which you will get at every activity – sometimes super tasty, sometimes far too sweet) and a grilled sausage (I skipped – veggie life).

After everyone ate their sausages, we had some free time before we would go back, so I went already outside with one tour guide and some other people and again, we were all freaking out and the adrenaline rose up. The Northern lights!! The Northern lights!!

We saw the Northern lights for the second time in a row. Hell yeah!

I guess you have read enough for now, so this was it. A little teaser for the next blog of ticking all our boxes in Levi, Lapland – part 2. We hired Fat bikes which was hilarious and went for another snow scooter activity and reached 70 kilometer an hour (happy race monster). See you there!

Horseback riding with Santiago Exchange

Last Saturday, I went for the second time horse riding. I booked it through an organisation which is made for students that live in Santiago and want to go to parties, do trips, and/or activities. It is called Santiago Exchange.

The trip started at 15:45, so I took the Uber and ended in the middle of nowhere surrounded by real cowboys. I must say, I liked the horse riding in Colombia more than the one I did that day. Mostly, because I changed of horse and also the second one was not really listening and following my orders. However, the view which it gave me, over Santiago, was amazing. It was the first time that I was seeing the whole city with the mountains included in the back. So beautiful, although it would have been even more without the pollution cloud. But that is the thing which you, unfortunately, get with it, when you live in Santiago.

It was quite nice to go with Santiago Exchange. Although, it is ran by students, everything was structured and alright. Besides, since I was quite lonely, it was nice to see new faces and speak to new people. Not that I made new friends, but it was a lovely day.

A father-daughter weekend

Ohhhh I looked so forward to this father-daughter weekend. A weekend full of wine, Italian food (well, that will not surprise you) and I let my dad taste the beest ice cream in town.

My dad arrived on Friday at the end of the morning and we went straight to my favourite bakery. We both had a cappuccino and shared some pastries (yes, we love that, too, ha-ha). The weather wasn´t that good and it was raining a lot. However, for us, it would be better if it would rain that Friday instead of the weekend. So, while it was raining very hard we had lunch again at one of my favourite restaurants: Zá Zá.

I also showed dad the Mercato Nazionale and after we went home to have some rest and sleep a little bit. Dad woke up at four that morning, so he could use some. Not that we kept the night short, because after we had an amazing dinner with lots of wine (yes, we left the restaurant a little tipsy) at Vetreria, we went to the Red Garter. The bar, my friends and I usually go to before we go to the club. I introduced dad to the Long Island Ice Tea. The favourite drink of several friends of mine and at that time, the favourite drink of my dad. For the ones not knowing, Long Island Ice Tea is an (obviously alcoholic) drink with four different alcohols and Coco cola. I know, it is called Long Island ICE TEA, but yeah, they put Coco cola in it. A mind f*ck.

On Saturday the roadtrip started and we continued our father-daughter weekend. Again, we used again Car2go, only now for two days. Because yes!! We did a road trip for two days, all in the Chianti region. We really wanted to do a wine tour together at a Castello and that we could also sleep in the Castello and eat there, and of course, I found one!

Wine tour at Castello di Fonterutoli

After we arrived at the Castello di Fonterutoli, we had to hurry a little bit to be one time for the wine tour at five o’clock. The place where we stayed was beautiful and super romantic. The wine tour was, by the way, also very nice. This was especially when the man started to talk about the history of the winery. It had taken them seven years to renovate (the winery is from 1435, the family Mazzei). This was because of different obstacles with the water system and hydration for the wine

Pitstop in Siena

On Sunday, we took it easy and after breakfast, we headed to Siena. A city which I would not spend the whole day, because there is not much to do, but it is very nice for some hours. And since we had the time, why not? ha-ha. We mainly relaxed on a terras in the sun and face-timed with mom. Because yes, the whole weekend was sunny and not raining at all. Lucky us!

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After we arrived back in Florence from our roadtrip to Greve in Chianti, I let experience dad the most delicious ice-cream in my opinion at Gelateria Dei Neri. Oh, and yes, he loved it! We finished the amazing weekend off with dinner at another favourite restaurant of mine (yes, actually all the restaurants where I come are my favourite ha-ha). This one is called: Napoleone. This father-daughter weekend was just lovely!

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Safari in Swaziland – a mind-blowing experience

The roadtrip through South-Africa stopped for a little while because we went for another safari in Swaziland. This time to Mkhaya Game Reserve for a few days. For the other four games drives we stayed at the Stone Camp in Swaziland.

A mind-blowing safari experience in Swaziland

Arriving there was already sort of an experience, because we needed to wait for the ranger to pick us up because all gates were closed. A group of thirteen children came to our car while we stood still and knocked on our windows for food. We gave them chocolate and peppermints. Afterwards, it felt like half of the town came to our car to ask for food and they played football with a handmade ball. We laughed with them, gave high fives, however, on the other hand, it was sort of heart breaking…

We disappeared for thee days and it were the best three days of my life.

Before we arrived at the camp, some rhino’s came running behind us. We (the children) screamed to dad; Drive faster, faster dad!!” Gladly, we entered the gate and they could not come further. It may sounds dramatic or dangerous, but we also laughed a lot (probably because nothing serious happened..). From there on, we had to leave our car, could only take a small bag and went to the camp with the ranger.

The special point about Stone Camp is, that it is totally in the middle of nowhere, much more than Umkumbe. There was no electricity, no service/WiFi, which means that we “disappeared” for three days and saw The Milky Way again. I loved everything of it! Back to basic, but still in a luxury way because all lodges had a toilet and shower (even warm water). As you can see on the picture below the lodge is one with nature. Umkumbe was already something special/new with the animals walking around the park, but this was even a step further than that.

The whole atmosphere was amazing, calm/quiet, and romantic. During the night, there were petroleums on the ground, hanging in the trees, and all around our lodge. Extremely zen!

A day at Stone Camp

At this park the dawn game drive was from 6:15 until 8:00 in the morning. They again woke us up, this time not with “good morning” as like in Umkumbe but with “knock knock”, even though we didn’t even have a proper door (so cute haha). We saw some different animals, the ones we only had actually already seen in Sadi Sands, besides the buffalo, but still beautiful. We had seen four out of five from the big five! Still waiting patiently for the lion.

At 10:30 started the bush walk until 12:30. I was already happy that we could walk around and again stretch my legs. Seeing animals was like a bonus haha! The ranger explained us different things about insects, trees, and we saw a family giraffe and rhino from close again. I have to say that I felt saver in the car than when I was walking, but the experience was still very nice though.

Lunch was at 13:00 and the second game drive started at 15:30. For the first time we saw hippos in the water, even opening their mouths. While we again had spotted some rhinos, giraffes, and a crocodile, we headed back to the camp for dinner.

Our last night there was one which I will never forget. This roadtrip through South-Africa and Swaziland is already such a dream After, we all had finished dinner, the staff (all woman) started to play music with the drum, sang and dance around the campfire. Traditional dance, as she later on told us. They had done three songs and we all stopped with clamming enthusiastic. Some volunteers were able to dance with them. You may already guess/know who the volunteer wanted to be? Yes, you were right (or maybe not), it was me and I took my little sister and mom with me. Not that I wanted it for the attention, but more that I could show my appreciation towards them and dancing makes me very happy.

Eventually, we stood there with also three French people. It was an amazing experience to dance their traditional dance, but we totally failed of course haha. The evening ended with all 20 people from the camp dancing around the campfire. We were so laughing, clapping and enjoying. It was really wonderful!

I went to bed with a big smile, hundreds of stars above my head, and the sound from lots of insects/animals. This incredible place, forever in my heart.

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What to do in and around Bogota, Colombia?

Finally, finally, finally. Another reunion after 2,5 years, but now only in Bogota, Colombia! It was the time that Daniel and I would meet again. Before I already went to Chile, I bought my ticket to Bogota (where he lives) for six days. I will tel you everything about what to do in and around Bogota?

Where should I start?

So, yes.. where to start? I think with the flight, because that was something. Back in the time while buying the ticket for Bogota. It was all a bit stressful, because I wanted to find the cheapest but most efficient flights, to make sure that I was in Bogota as long as possible. I searched on (literally) the whole internet.

The reason by the way, why I could (what I thought only) go six days was because of National Holiday in Chile. Although, I should not forget to mention that my supervisor one week before told me that he thought that I was going for 10 days to Bogota…… I was a little bit sad in the beginning, but yeah, a miscommunication and you all know that changing a ticket also has a price, so I let it this way and those things happen.

Okay, back to the flight. So, I bought my ticket while being at the beach house on a sunny Friday afternoon. The ticket was still expensive but the times where good, although LATAM (airplane company) changed the departure time twice. Eventually I left 1:05 Friday morning and as of my own surprise, a week before my departure my eye fell on the word “Business Class”. I checked everything and yes, I booked Business Class for my way to Bogota. Do not ask me how, because I still have no idea haha. By then, I understood why my ticket was so expensive (I leave out the price in this story), but yeah, I thought now I have Business Class I can better enjoy it to the fullest because this is probably not going to happen many more times (if I don’t make the same “mistake” again haha…).

The reunion with Daniel

I arrived in Bogota at 5:20 in the morning (the time difference is two hours with Santiago). The flight was all good, but still didn’t sleep a lot. However, because I was full of adrenaline I didn’t feel it. Dani picked me up from the Airport and we went to his house which was like 20 minutes away.

Although Dani and I, most of the time, have weekly contact, share a lot and FaceTime sometimes, it was still a nervous moment to see someone again after 2,5 years. No worries at all, because the bound was still as strong as it has always been.

After a sleepy morning/afternoon and meeting Dani’s family, Dani and I went up to Monserrate to have an amazing view of Bogota and visited the old house of Quinta.

Weekend road trip

On Friday night we left Bogota and with “we” I mean; Dani, Angelica (Dani’s sister), Nicolas (Angelica’s boyfriend), and me. Boys in the front, girls in the back, Latin music and goooo. We rent an Airbnb in Villa de Leyva for the weekend. Villa de Leyva is a historical village with actually only white houses and during the night you usual see lots of stars (unfortunately we had lots of clouds).

Horse riding

Haha yes, you read that well; horse riding. Never liked horses and obviously I had never ride a horse. I must say, I was afraid. The first five minutes on the horse were not one of my favorite moments in life, however, that changed very very fast. I never expected it, but my gosh, I loved it so much! The horse wasn’t always listening that well, because when I wanted to go faster he didn’t. Later on, Dani told me that the horse had a total different name than I called him, so maybe that is the reason haha..

In total the horse riding was one hour, although I would have loved to ride longer. By the way, Villa de Leyva is full of horses and people who offer those tours. It is more usual to have a horse than a car, let’s put it this way. So, when you want to ride a horse, you just search for a cowboy (we all know how a cowboy look like right?) and that’s it!

On the way back Dani’s horse fell and therefore Dani also fell of the horse. I was just a little bit behind him galloping too, and it didn’t look really good. He rolled like around three times over the ground, but gladly he was “fine”. I was very worried about his head because he fell quiet hard. Gladly, his head was fine, but he still had a wound on his elbow and knee + jean broken.

The horse was also wounded, but the people took great care of him and Dani, too. Because after the tour, we went to their office and they helped cleaning the wound. Although, a few days later Dani still had pain, we all in general (again) enjoyed the horse riding very much!

Riding squads

We went for squad riding after the horse riding, which you can see when you look at Dani’s jean… I still don’t know which one of the two I loved the most, but I definitely enjoyed this one too!

So, yeah the experience. What should I say? I just loved to be a bit extreme and drift all around in the mud. All did Dani told me, he was a bit in a shock in the beginning because he didn’t expect that I would be the second Torreto (Fast&Furious actor). This is also a side of me, it is just that I do not get to show it very often, but it doesn’t say it is not there you know.

And yes, lots of mud and speed, so dirty legs, trousers and shoes. I can tell, the shower after was great!

Relaxing time

The Airbnb provided a guitar which we first didn’t know. Dani plays guitar and sings. So, while he practiced some songs, I just had another moment to be grateful to be alive and have such amazing, inspiring people around me.

Besides all the cute white houses, the traditional shops and nice restaurants, there is another thing which really catched my eye. During the evening, lots of people gather together at the Plaza and take their drinks to chat and dance with their friends or meeting new people. Something which I had never seen before. Those people, their culture, and this was just day two!

The next morning we took it all a bit slowly. Breakfast was actually served until ten, but I think we came around eleven or even later. Very kind though, that they still served it for us. I bought Pisco (typical Chilean and Peruvian alcohol- 40%) for Dani as thank for everything and the guys bought Aquadiente (typical Colombian alcohol- 29%). We drunk at the Airbnb that night, played games and danced, but it went all a bit too fast and was too strong. Gladly, a hangover wasn’t included.

Colorful Raquira & the Independence Monument

After the breakfast we headed to Raquira which was around an hour in the car, but in the direction of Bogota. It felt like we were doing a formule 1 race, because beside the roads where waiters waving with red flags in sense of; “Come and have lunch here”. Furthermore, Raquira is a small town with colorful buildings and traditional shops.

After Dani had parked the car, we walked a bit around. Although, I almost love everything they sell like the bags and hammocks, the clothes, the souvenirs, I didn’t buy anything, just because I can buy everything then haha…

The weather was good that day, also in Raquira it was quiet warm. Therefore, I was finally able to wear my favorite dress. So yeah, as you can expect we made some pictures, also together. We laughed a lot and again, I felt so grateful to have such an amazing time with those people.

Before we had lunch at an Italian restaurant, we passed the place of the Independence of Colombia. The little white bridge you can see on the picture, is where it all finished. Dani and Angelica told me it was a small bridge, however, I didn’t expect it would be that small haha.

Wandering around in Bogota

On Monday, we went into the city centre by bus. Dani wanted to show me the Plaza (which is nice but looks like every square in the world) and Chorro, which is an area with lots of graffiti. However, that is not the biggest reason for the specialty of Chorro, because Chorro is where Bogota began.

So, Chorro is the beginning of Bogota, although Bogota was first called; Bacatá. There were only twelve houses and one church (which you see on the picture below). The houses are all very low and small by the way.

After we walked a bit around, Dani said that I should try another typical drink, Canelazo with alcohol. We went to the oldest bar, called Santa Marta Café, and ordered. Canelazo is something sweet and looks like sugar, and is together with spices. The drink is hot and you drink it like coffee together with an alcohol of your choice. I had tequila with passion fruit and Dani had vodka. It was much stronger than I expected and wasn’t able to finish. I was already tipsy after 5 sips haha…

Laguna de Guatavita and Catedral de Sal

On Tuesday, we took the car again and left Bogota after lunch to Laguna de Guatavita. Even though, it was raining cats and dogs, it was a very nice trek of around 45 minutes through the woods with as result the Laguna. The tour was in Spanish, therefore, Dani was still the whole time whispering the translation in my ear, still I am not able to tell you the whole story again (I forgot, sorry Dani…). I know people, not the first time I write something which I actually doesn’t know about, but yeah that’s me. At that moment, I loved it and understood the whole story. However, because I receive so much information, I cannot save everything in my little cutie brain you know.

And now!! Here it comes, one of my favorites; Catedral de Sal. I think it is good to know that I don’t believe in God or anything, but that I am very open to learn more about it and see other people’s perspective.

The reason why the Catedral de Sal is one of my favorites is, because it is 180 meters under the ground and takes one kilometer before you are there, and because it was just insane beautiful and magical. Everything is made from salt (that’s why “Sal”) and took in total 70 years. All the work is done by miners, who still work in there today to make it bigger with more levels.

It is difficult to show and explain how touchy this place is. So yes, if you are ever close to Bogota you MUST go there, you MUST!

Oh and we even helped the miners a bit with their work. I know, it looks very pussy, but it was hard and heavy people. Yes, lots of respect for the miners!!

To finish, as you have seen and read, I did really have six fantastic, amazing, lovely days. They couldn’t have been any better and yes it was difficult to say good bye, but great things are waiting for me in Chile! I am just a very grateful woman and cannot thank Dani and his family enough.

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The countryside of Santiago – away from five million people

Although the trip to Salar de Uyuni was quite the getaway, the countryside of Santiago was quiet enough as well. Sometimes you just need to go away. You need away to recharge your battery, to find back your perspective on life. You need to get away in order to come back and see what you have. Well, the countryside of Santiago helped me a lot!

Cajón del Maipo with Belén

So, Cajón del Maipo. The countryside of Santiago. Translated as the “Box between the mountains” and a beautiful getaway place from Santiago. After I arrived home from Bogota at around three in the night, I would meet Belén at her house around twelve in the afternoon. After I unpacked and packed my bag for four days, I took the Uber to Belén. We would go first take the metro and then the bus before her dad picked us up at a town and we would then further go to the village they live in called; El Ingenio. In total, it is around one and a half hour to arrive.

Belén her parents have their holiday house in El Ingenio for already many many years. They were the first ones in the village. The house is literally amazing and feels as if you are in Austria because of the style (all wooden). Besides that, the view which they have is so wonderful.

I am now wondering if I have ever introduced Belén to you? Because I actually do not think that I did.. “oh-oh impolite Isa”. So, Belén and I know each other from England. Since I am here in Chile, we have met a few times and we really get along. No expectations or anything, just all very relaxing. So, yeah that was this long weekend too. We slept, ate, read, talked and relaxed a lot. We played Catan with the neighbours (Daniel and his girlfriend Claudia) and went to a place called Embalse El Yeso (I will tell you later about that).

A funny thing to know is that their neighbours are like family. They share lunch and dinner together very spontaneous and just come by without telling like it is the most normal thing to do. I like that, so relax and no worries at all.

Rayuela con Terremoto

We also played a game called Rayuela and drunk Terremoto with it. Terremoto means earthquake in English and it is a mix of alcohol (sort of white wine), pineapple ice cream and a very sweet/sugar full sirup. Nope, I did not like it, but I liked the game Rayuela and according to the locals I was quite good for the first time playing it. You throw an iron oval “thing” from 7 metres, as close as possible to the white line in the middle. You have two changes and play with a partner against two others. Easy as it is; the couple with their “iron oval things” as closest to the white line in the middle, win points. The ones who have as first ten points win! Belén and I ended up in the finals but lost, because they were very good with lots of experience (just old men actually, oopsie… haha)

Another thing I told you what we did was eating. During the afternoon, they eat big, but for me, that is like big. Besides that, I stopped eating meat but every lunch there was meat. I liked it and thought why not, I just try it another time and see how my body reacts, was a bad idea people, a bad idea…

Embalse El Yeso

On Saturday morning the weather allowed us to go to Embalse El Yeso. We woke up at eight and left around 9:30. The last week it had snowed, therefore the top of the mountains were white. They called me “the lucky woman”.

The road was quite bumpy because of the stones and in the end, it was even closed. We needed to walk the last bit. Welcome to the real countryside of Santiago. No problem for me, I was happy about stretching my legs again after a while haha.

Clear water

We arrived at the Laguna made pictures, played a bit in the snow and Daniel who has lots of knowledge about all this place explained to me about the water system.

All the water that comes from the Andes mountains goes into a big tube to Santiago. There is only like that one important thing. If you would try the water over there, it is insanely clean. In Santiago, as I also experience it really is not! By the way, I do not drink water from the tap in Santiago. A few times per week I walk on the street as a clumsy person. Too many water bottles to carry in my hand and let one drop once in a while.

Another thing about water. Belén told me that I should wash my hair while I am there. So, I did and really, the first eight hours I could not stop talking about the fact that my hair was so extremely soft and shiny. Now my hair was just naturally perfect. All thanks to the water!

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Hidden place in the Costa Brava – Cadaqués

At the coast in the north of Spain is a hidden place in the Costa Brava, one magical town called Cadaqués. It is the famous white town in the Costa Brava where the artist Salvador Dalí lived as well. I can tell you, it is so magical that you wouldn’t want to leave this place.

Magical Cadaqués

When I started looking for hotels in Cadaqués, there was one in particular that catched my eyes. I found the hotel on Booking.com and saw that there was a Super deal, I could not refuse. The hotel is called, Hotel Rec De Palau, and is seriously amazing and magical. It has a breathtaking view of the sea (as you can see in the picture below) and everything was well arranged. I had my own studio, at the beginning of the hill, with a view on the centre of the town and a bit of the sea. Every morning, I climbed out of bed, opened the little windows to hear the gulls and the waves of the sea. Magical isn’t it?

What to do in Cadaqués?

When I was in Cadaqués it was April, so off-season at the moment. The weather was great, around 17 degrees and there weren’t many tourists. I think that in high summer this place is stacked with tourists since it is very close to the French border. Because Salvador Dalí lived in Cadaqués, there is a museum of him which you can visit. Further, there is not really much to do in Cadaqués besides walking, relaxing and eating. However, I think that during the summer Cadaqués may be a very active and sportive town because during my walks I saw some surf shops and there was also a place where you could rent canoes, bikes and scooters. Besides that, I saw some leaflets lying around in a shop with maps for hiking trails and beaches in other towns.

My daily routine

Now you are maybe asking yourself what I did then those three days? After I woke up around nine o’clock for breakfast, I stayed in the living area until somewhere before lunchtime. I was mainly enjoying the view and reading a bit from my Spanish book. Around 11:30 I went to town for a walk and actually always ended around 13:00 in a restaurant for lunch. I decided to change my meals. Therefore I ate warm during lunch and for dinner, I bought a salad or just a baguette with some chicken.

I came home around two or three o’clock and went for a shower before going back to the hotel, to sit again in my favourite leather chair, enjoying the breathtaking view.  Around six, I went back to my studio to eat my “dinner” and always watched one episode of my Spanish series on Netflix, Velvet. After that, I studied some Spanish, watched a Spanish film or wrote some poems. Yeah, I know, lots of Spanish stuff. At home, they are already going crazy about that. Furthermore, because I had still bags until my knees (a bit of exaggerating of course) I slept around nine in order to get the twelve hours of sleep.

Indeed, you can conclude that I did not do much, but I loved it! It was so relaxing and calm, even in the hotel. Most of the time when I was in the living area, I was alone and that made it more peaceful than it already was. It was really me-time and this hidden place in the Costa Brava will forever be on my list.

So, was it a successful trip? Yes, it definitely was!!

A day trip to Cinque Terre

We started the day trip to Cinque Terre with a bus ride for around two hours, ended up at La Spezia. From there we took the train to Manarola. The weather was amazing with a high temperature so we were lucky, especially because they said it had been pouring rain the day before. To give you some extra information, Cinque Terre means 5 villages in English (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore). We only visited four of them and left Corniglia behind.

Vernazza

We also did a hike. So instead of taking the train you can also hike. You hike from Manarola to Vernazza. The hike was around 4,4 km and we finished it in one hour and fifteen minutes. Since it was so warm, the sweat was definitely around and also since we were off-road we had to pay good attention to where we walked. When we wanted to enjoy the view, we stopped and just looked at the beautiful landscape. When we arrived in Vernazza, we all really craved for an ice-cream. It was the best we ever had. I don’t know if it because we had such a heavy hike or just because it was the best ha-ha.

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Climbing the Pucon vulcano right before Christmas

This was my last trip of my time in Chile. I was climbing the Pucon vulcano. It was the last place I wanted to see before I would leave Chile, because I don’t think I will ever come back to this country again.

It all started Friday evening. I took the night bus from Santiago Terminal to Pucón, a small city in the south of Chile. The bus departure was 22:05, but as you can probably already guess, it took a little bit longer for the bus to arrive. I had never been in that neighborhood or either at the terminal before and get shocked by the immense amount of people. I had forgotten about the fact that it was almost Christmas and people would go away for Christmas to visit their families. It only looked like they were all moving out of their movies. All the stuff they will them, it was insane.

The reason why I wanted to go to Pucón was only one actually; climbing the Vulcan Villarrica. Jesse and the others already climbed it, however during winter, still they told me to be prepared, because it was the worst thing they had ever done in life. I would lie if I would say that I wasn’t scared.

The day, finally climbing the Pucon vulcano

On Sunday was the day. At 6:30 I had to be at the agency and would we pick up our clothes and change ourselves. It really wasn’t the most fashionable outfit, but that made it sort of funny. It belonged to the experience.

Jesse and the others already told me that you are able to choose whether you want to take the chairlift, that saves up an hour of walking or not, in the beginning. They advised me to do it, of course you have to pay for it, but I didn’t know how heavy the other hours were going to be, so I rather took the chairlift. The tour guides called us clever, because of our group (total 15 people), only four people took the chairlift.

From the moment we got out of the chairlift, we had to walk in the snow. Climbing the Pucon vulcano really started now. We walked in a line to make sure that it was save. It was all quite steep, but the tempo of the guide was very slow. So slow that my heart rate did not go up and I sometimes even got a little bored, to be honest. However, the view was amazing and breathtaking. Once we arrived at the top, we had lunch which was sometimes a bit difficult to eat. We always had to wear our gas masks because of the smoke from the Vulcan.

I loved to go down. Climbing the Pucon vulcano was still amazing, but going down was the best moment of the day. We slegde all the way down, because it would have been to dangerous, also for the muscles. I felt like a child and got so excited, and sometimes went a bit faster than I should. You should have seen my happy face!