In few days, we will fly to Mallorca to take our 3rd vacation* with our baby. This time we rented a house by Airbnb right next to the beach. Here’s a little foretaste: Waking up early to enjoy uncrowded beaches, trying deep water soloing (which is way beyond my comfort zone..), running away from waves with my baby, enjoying the sunset on our terrace with a good glass of wine… Let’s see, which adventures still lie ahead for us.
My summer days and nights have became kind of a routine now. Here in this little city, we found joy in an more easy-going lifestyle. Often, we spend time in the forest for climbing and to meet our small friends…
Here, I always feel like a small human being in the midst of thick forest. Among the green hills surrounded by nature and an absolute stillness, I am not only living in but also with the nature. Within two hours in the forest we saw marmots eating blueberries, rabbits running in front of our pathway, squirrels stealing some left-over food, whirring hummingbirds in front of our faces, frogs and woodpeckers… we even had two bear cncounters so far. Luckily not really dangerous, because we stayed in our car.
But not only the wildlife fascinates me. The plants and trees are dominating the scene and by walking through the forest, I discovered something really sweet: Wildberries! Strawberries, Rasperries, Blueberries.. all on the way, ready to eat. Of course, I enjoy those days in the forest, even if I realize at home that I scratch 20 new mosquito bites more. The mosquitos are our evils here and before we go to the woods, we spray our bodys allover with those toxic woodsmen Repellent.
The Shinleaf plant contains a drug, that is siminal to Aspirin. This plant has a really sweet smell, similar to Jasmin flowers.
My summer days are also filled with a life on the lakes. Here I have about 200 hundred lakes to choose frome.. so where to start? All of them are totally wild and sometimes not easy to access. Luckily we know some cool locals here, who invited us to their chalet on the lake, to have boatrides, woodfire bbq and simply having a relaxed time.
As much as I love the peaceful life here, I’m happy soon to hit the road again through the Rocky Mountains. I do miss the mountains a lot and I can’t wait to hike, climb and to enjoy the nature.
Now, I am 30! I can’t believe another whole decade has passed and I think back about the stuff that happend in my 20’s: Changing jobs, travelling, relationship ups and downs, moving appartments and cities, party nights, first wrinkles ;-)…
Somehow it was hectic and some situations really freaked me out, but I always listened to my heart to make decisions.
By the end of my 20’s I figured out which profession suits me and the place I will feel happy to live in the future. I believed in love to have a strong relationship in the future. I feel also grateful for many things: The fact that family and my friends were always around me, was terrific. Generally I felt in good health and I made some of my dreams come true, whether it is a travel to the souks of Morocco, to the glaciers in Iceland or Asia for the first time. I appreciate to learn to (almost) speak fluently French and to follow my creative vision to develop a whole website from the beginning to the end.
I want to say “Thank You” to my family and friends who made my 20s a really special, because of their kindness, their honesty and love. I can’t be more grateful about that. Thank you for making my birthday a special day, with letters, messages and cute gifts! I hope you will be around in my next decades.
One thing is certain: future is as deep and unknown as the ocean, but knowing a little bit more what I want to do, with who I want to be and where I want to stay, feels really good now! Although I’m sure that everything will come to its place, I will stay “foolish and hungry” for trying out new things and exploring places around the world. Cheers to a new phase of life!
And when the fog’s over
and the stars
and the moon come out at night
it’ll be a beautiful sight.
-Big Sur, Jack Kerouac
I truly had a beautiful sight along my drive at Big Sur. The dictionary describes Big Sur as “a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean.”
So I travelled with a rental car from Los Angeles to visit this wildly beautiful coastline which stretches along the Pacific at Highway 1. I drove north to south, so I stayed the day before in Carmel Valley, which is known for fine dining, wine tasting, antique shops and art galleries.
I really can recommend the Earthbound Farm Stand, which is a healthier alternative to other spots in the area. The farm stand is in a great stetting with charming gardens and a little shop for organic products. After a tasty melon-mint frozen yogurt, I felt pampered and ready for Big Sur!
When I woke up in the early morning, I looked outside the window and got surprised by a grey and cloudy sky. I knew I had only this day to travel south along Big Sur and I felt a bit disappointed. I took my time to have a long breakfast (hoping that the clouds might be gone after a while). Suddenly the sun showed its face from time to time.
The next 3-4 hours I got overwhelmed by the beauty of Big Sur. White beaches surrounded by fields of wildflowers, a scenic coastal road, hidden caves and waterfalls and spectacular views. I just loved this! Each minute of this drive is so worth it, because I got surprised on every curve of the street. I let the photos speak for itself:
Of course, Big Sur was crazy crowded by tourists, but for a reason. Just next to the streets are some hiking trails which made me forget the crowds really fast. Springtime is the perfect time of the year to visit this place. The wildflower fields made everything even more picturesque.
I have visited a lot of places in California, but Big Sur definitely felt like a big win. Maybe it’s the fact that I travelled that part on my own and I soaked in every moment with a feeling of gratitude. Or maybe, I personally felt myself at ease in this section of the travel: The sea, the coast, the beaches – sometimes you appreciate things even more, when you won’t have them for a while again.
Now, I’m back in Canada, back in the known woods, surrounded by mosquitos, bears and hummingbirds… Well this is another story to tell.. 😉
While I love to have many vacation memories in my head, I’m happy to actually have brought a real souvenir at home.
I spent two days at Laguna Beach (California) and got really inspired by the artwork made of sculpture photography. The artist Todd Elliott Cohen invited us for a demonstration of his photographs in his tiny showroom.
After darkening the room, he turned on lights in different colors, which are installed inside the sculpure. With zoom on the object, it made an interesting- almost nature-related- appearance on the photos.
I bought three postal-card sized photographs, which I thought would work well together. I can’t wait to put them in a frame and find a nice spot in our future home.
It took us longer than expected: The road from San Diego to Joshua Tree Nationalpark was a full-day drive, but we got impressed by the diversity of landscapes. I have to admit that we didn’t choose to take the direct highway, because we wanted to visit some places on the (indirect) way:
- Anza Borrego Desert State Park
- Salton Sea
- Salvation Mountain
- Coachella Valley and Palm Springs
A salt lake and a painted mountain
I remember this day so diverse, because within each 2 hours, the landscape and vegetation changed a few times. We had it all: Mountain mist, desert draught, painted hills and from the deserted salt flats. Until 5 pm we felt pretty lonely on the road, driving just couple of miles from the mexican border. We saw many mexican fruit pickers on the grapes and date fields and the cities felt actually more “mexican”. Then we reached Salton Sea:
Salton Sea was actually really impressive. It is one of the world’s largest inland seas and lowest spots on earth at -227 below sea level. I guess it is not the main tourist spot, because we haven’t really seen other traveler.
Not a lot, but we spotted some tourists on Salvation Mountain. This mountain was built by outsider artist and lone dreamer “Leonard Knight”, who painted his visions and biblical quotations on a dirt ridge. Although acutally an artifical mountain, this clearly pops out, because of ist bright colors in the middle of the desert. What an eye-candy!
Leonard passed away last year, but he used to sleep in this truck (called the “Salvation Truck”), which is decorated with a house on the back.
Impressed by this artwork, we had to continue driving, if we wanted to reach Joshua Tree by night. It was really stormy outside and as we arrived at the entrance of the nationalpark, we doubted our intensions to camp in the national park. We consulted some park rangers at the information center and they just asked us: “Do you love wind?” This question gave us the answer immediately: We stayed at a Motel in the city of Twentynine Palms.
Joshua Tree Nationalpark
We started early in the day to make our way through the national park, which is part of the Mojave Desert.
After about 40 minutes we saw impressive rock formations, formed more than 100 million years ago and Joshua trees, for which the park is named. It isn’t really a tree but a species of yucca. Like other desert plants, its waxy, spiny leaves can efficiently conserve moisture. The Joshua trees blooms February through April with cream-colored flowers and are home to many animals, like the Scott’s Oriole bird. I was lucky to have seen one of them 🙂
This is truly a climbers paradise! We jumped over boulders and climbed on “The Arch”-boulder. We continued driving to stop at other amazing boulders. We spotted some campgrounds and felt really sad that we couldn’t camp out there. It must be such a great feeling to put your tent just next to huge, round boulders, with a great sunset and the really funny looking Joshua trees around. Maybe another time…
After visiting the national park, we drove back to Ventura. Overall, I’m really happy to have seen so many special places in only 5 days. Each day was unique and brought his own surprises and highlights.
I had few days to rest, before I left up north to visit the last part: Big Sur! I will honor this part of my travel another blog post, because it was just wonderul!
California called me and I had to go. This destination wasn’t really on my radar – until this year. Due to the reason that my sister chose to move to the place of endless summer, I decided to visit her. Although the first reason was to see her, I took the chance to visit some really great places.
But where to start, what to visit and how far to go? Well, if there is one place that offers variety and you can make every day a beach day, California has it all! Deserts, endless coastline, vibrant cities, beautiful mountains, vineyards for your thirst… just to mention few things.
Coast and mountains
I was impressed by the diversity of the coastal towns. Venice Beach for example, has a laid back charm and offers an open and creative space for street artists to exhibit their graffitis.
Santa Barbara, also known as the capital of the american Riviera, fascinates by its meter-high palm trees, breathtaking sunsets and striking appearence by the spanish-style builings . Althought this city is very popular for the young and wealthy, it’s somehow cosy and has an easy athmosphere.
The first days we not only visited those cities, but also made a motorbike-tour in the backcountry. The beautiful landscape compansated my fears of motorbiking and the wine-tasting at a small wineyard was definitely worth the trip!
Fun (and fitness) in the sun
Back at my sisters place in Ventura (which is a visit worth itself!) I made another discovery: Everybody is doing fitness! With Fitness Studios open 24/7, the young and the old – and I mean really old – flex their muscles either in the sun, the beach or in the studios. This confirmed a bittle bit my thoughts about local Califonians and their attitude about a healty lifestyle- and at least equally important – a beautiful appearance.
But what about “Surfin’ USA”? Surely, everywhere are surfers, who live this typical californian lifestyle.
My sister and I left the greater Los Angeles area, to drive south on the coast to San Diego. But our first overnight-stop was Laguna Beach, a lively town full of artists, cute cafés and a nice beach. We knew that prices are really high for an accomodation, so we stayed at a campground, which lies in a beautiful location up in the hills. Sea view from our tent inclusive!
I really can recommend this campground and even more “Ruby’s Shake Shack” for dinner or breakfast. The location is next to the street but with a million-dollar view: Sitting under an umbrella high on the cliffs, eating burger and watching the sunset on the Orange County coastline. Perfect way to round off the day!
The next day we discovered the town and got enchanted by the “pirate tower” on Victoria beach – another must-do, when you are in town. As a souvenir, I bought some artwork for my near-future home back in Bavaria.
San Diego was interesting. Let me explain…
For me, I found this city the most beautiful in the evening, when it gets busy and shiny in Little Italy and the Gaslamp-Quarter. Really cute.
Not so cute was our night in the hotel. During 2 am in the night, we woke up, because an obviously drunken and agressive guy next door, shouted and destroyed mirrors in the bathroom. We got really panic what would happen next, so we called the police. And it certainly became clear that we are in the United States, when 5 police cars and 1 ambulance surrounded the hotel. What a large-scale operation! We heared some “get on the floor”-shouting from the police and we felt like in a bad action-movie. This wasn’t funny at all…
We stayed in our locked hotel room, too scared to walk outside, as we knew this guy out there is highly aggressive. After about one hour, the police dragged the bad person outside.
After this rough night, we decided to spend a day on the beach to relax, before leaving the day after to Joshua Tree Nationalpark.
Soon: ” California – Part 2″
I am back in town! The eventful days of May had just flown by, but the memories will last for a while. The last month was quite special. Not only, it marked the halftime of my time in Canada, but also it felt like a total contrast to the previous three month in winter.
I got lucky to have spent the last 5 weeks on the road, from the mexican beach, heading south the coast of Orange County to the Mojave desert, from the Santa Monica hills to the lakes of rural Québec. Overall, I felt like a nomad and every day had his own attraction.
I kickstarted the days of May with a little getaway to Mexico. I left my homebase in Canada at minus 15 degrees and still snow on the roads, ready to leave the coldness behind me.
After Mexico I continued my defrost-program in sunny California, while my man had to do some business preparations for our return to Germany, in late September.
Although, I will write more about California in another post, I try to summerize my memories:
The smell of ripe strawberries, salty air in my hair, crazy traffic around Los Angeles, dry earth and drought, amazing sunsets, loooong distances, superb wine, artisan craft, sandstorms, rain in the desert, a major police operation in our hotel, me against my motorbike fears, (broken)Hollywood-actors are also just humans and.. Big Sur!
L.A. = traffic
Well, I guess, I got the full Californication package. I left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was stunned by all the different landscapes that California offers, but on the other hand I was overwhelmed by the L.A. traffic. Getting from one place to the other can take you hours. I guess I was just overstrained, because I barely get to see any traffic jam here in my remote forest-bubble 😉
Month of mosquitos
Back home in Canada, I immediately welcomed some good friends from Germany. We enjoyed a whirlwind trip together to Québec City and to the chalet in Mauricie. Squeezed in our car, we had a lot of fun, not only on the road.
But the Mosquitos drove us crazy. Did I tell, that May is probably the worst month to spend some time on lakes??? Thousands.. no wait millions of newborn mosquites are in the hunt for fresh blood to make us itching the whole time.
Welcoming my favourite month June
I realized that being away from home fro 5 weeks, is quite a long time. The snow melted away, the grass is green and the house is stained with dust.
What else happened the last 5 weeks? Well, I’m super happy that I passed my MOOC study course and received a certificate. I also received my membership for the Québec Climbing Federation, because I finished the first part of the climbing introduction. One thing is still missing and I can’t believe it: My working visa. At least, I received a “Conditional Acceptance Letter”, which is the last step to the visa agreement. Hopefully I won’t get it just the week before leaving Canada.
Well, I guess I have to make this place and myself summer-ready. I started looking for summer jobs and handed my CV to some places. Still, I have to wait for my visa. During this time, I will continue my yoga classes, maybe volunteering somewhere and finally: Climbing the walls of Mount Kekeko outside!!!
I’m also starting to plan for our next trip to Alberta in July. We have 2 weeks, and yes, I really hope, we can do this trip. I never have been to western Canada and it’s a longtime dream to travel this place.
or: How to learn French in Mexico
I gave this blog post a subtitle, because my last week in Mexico, wasn’t just about beach, tequila and mexican food. For me, this vacation was one thing in particular: An intense language course.
But let’s start from the beginning. I joined Jean-Nick for a week to Mexico, because he had been invitied to give a presentation to a group of dentists and their assistants. Overall, we were a group of nearly 50 people (the team and their partners), so I knew that this week would be kind of a “group travel”. Even if the partners didn’t need to attend the courses in the morning, we had a schedule of events and group activities.
So far so good. We arrived at the Hotel.. or better say “resort”, because it was huge with pools, restaurants, theme nights, bars… I have to mention that personally, I prefer to go travelling individually, trying to avoid the all-inclusive resorts. I just feel imprisoned, when I stick a whole week at a resort. Anyway, this resort was beautiful and I guess I could “deal” with a week there to be at the beach and relax.
But I overestimated the time to relax: To keep up with the group conversations, I had a week full of discussions in French. I truly can say that this boosted my language skills a lot. Who knew this would happen in Mexico! I felt really motivated and happy to have improved, when, on the next day, I wasn’t able to speak with anyone at all. I had to rest in bed, because I got stomach problems from the food or water. I couldn’t really attend the “white night”, the highlight of the week: It was an evening with the whole group, dressed in white and lots of activities.
To sum up this week, this was a pleasent getaway from the long winter in Canada. Though I missed to travel around and visit some mexican sites an villages, I enjoyed meeting new people and having interesting conversations.
With a short stopover, back in Canada, I’m happy that I continue my travel to California tomorrow. I guess, I will have a little vacation from learning French :).
After a long winter, I decided to leave the the canadian forest for a while. I can’t wait to rest on the beach lying in the sun, reading and relaxing. I’m ready to throw my big winter boots in the corner to exchange them for Flip-Flops.
So here are the travel plans for the upcoming weeks. To defrost, only one destination won’t be enough for me :-P…
Fiesta Méxicana & Surfin’ USA
In only one week, we will fly south to México, to have a week-long rest on the beach. We might visit some Maya sites and jump into Cenotes.
Afterwards, I will spend some time in California to visit my sister. Yet, we haven’t planned an exact route, but we definitely having a roadtrip to Orange County and San Diego area.
I’m looking forward to beachlife, salty hair, tequila and lots of new places to visit.
And I really hope that all the snow has melted when I return from the south…