I had first mint tea when I was a kid in the mornings together with bread and butter and honey. My dad used to collect the mint somewhere close to his job and he used to dry it in the kitchen or on the balcony. So as far as I remember I thought the mint tea is from dry leaves.
Many years apart I started to travel the world and one day I arrived in Morroco and I felt a familiar enchanting my olfactory senses. I was happy with my cappuccino on a small outside cafe on the Marakesh market but i had to give up and have a mint tea as my mind refused to think or smell anything else. When the tea arrived i was suprised to find out that fresh mint tea leaves where jamming in my cup and not the dry black version that was popular in my country. I really loved the idea that something was different but somehow the same that I have decided to keep the habbit of having fresh mint tea.
Fresh mint tea is the tea that connected 2 of my cherished memories, one of my dad making breakfast during my youth and one of me travelling around the world and experiencing old and new flavors alike. It is the tea of connection and care and I enjoy a cup with you this evening to cure my craving for both.
Today wasn’t easy to invite inspiration and mood to write on my life. I wake up feeling like running away to a different universe where people are free to roam and they have parties and they go to eat out on nice restaurants by the beach. Well a bit far what is possible in UK for now, so I just settle for my second best, a walk in the neighborhood. Starting last week we received guidance about what is considered to be exercise and we are alow to drive to the place we exercise if the exercise time is longer than the drive. Summary of our lovely police.
So I put some petrol in my lovely Toyota that I have been neglected her since a long time and I hit the road. I chose a castle around 60km of my house and I was ready to go. I have not been in a petrol station for a while and today I realized how much it is changed since my last visit. There is a plastic glass between me and the counter and the transaction was done trough a small window where I swiped my card. Still friendly and smiley and no mask (really really glad is not mandatory in UK). The road was pretty clear so in around 50 minutes I reached my destination.
Must be a long time since I had my last journey in the countryside, but I have been welcomed with a lovely surprise – PUBLIC FREE PARKING 😀 I had a lovely chat with a local that I had to ask if it is for real and we were both made fun of my disbelief. I asked him for directions and he said I could not miss my castle, is just down the road. On my way to the castle, I remember how much I miss those tiny public paths that keep you safe from the unexisting traffic. One of the locals was offering for free to their neighbors’ tiny little seedling in a big variety: cherry tomatoes -children’s favorite, baby plum, Italian plum and cream sausage. No idea that they are so many, yummy. I did not take one, as I am the worst garner I know, I manage to kill all the plants.
Took a deep breath and walk further to see my castle. I was really in the hiking mood and I realized something else that I missed, the buzz of the hiking group. Those moments when you first say your name, try to remember a new face or say a confident hi to people you have seen before in walks. It is like a small ceremony where we try to befriend a fellow traveler.
Hadleigh Castle was initially closed when I arrived, so I walked down towards the Two Tree Island. I met a lot of people hiking today, it was much more crowded than I would expect, all of us taking care to not cross to close to each either in the usual polite British way. What I love about the countryside and the people in the mountains is that they always greet you when you pass by. People in the city, even neighbors they seem to forgot their ruts 😀
Half an hour later when I decided to try again to see if the castle was open I has rewarded for my patience and my perseverance. Few other people joined and decided to have their lunch on the grass there. I must have seen the biggest family gathered all between of the remains of the castle, around 10 kids and 6 adults. I even forgot that they exist with this lockdown.
It was amazing to get back to the places I love. Hiking is one of the biggest joy of my life and having a walk is a great help to fight any signs of depression. I strongly recommend a life that includes regular walks in nature, as maybe you can realize how easy is to in tune with existence. Nature is never boring, small birds, bugs, flowers are always ready to be by your side and to bring joy. Trees for me as well are amazing, I often hug then on my journeys or in parks because they have been for a long time to witness us changing their world without judging us.
On my way back to the castle I realized I forgot to add my funny face somewhere in this short walk. I fixed the issue in a second and I had a long water break and some rest before heading back to my car. I am really more in peace with the world today and a lot of this gaining was the walk in nature. I would love to be able to inspire more and more people to live a simple life and enjoy the trills of some fresh air. Vitamin D is a big gain as well, even in a country where the sun is not so present at full warmth.
For now, I will finish with some bushy flowers because the bumblebee was not really keen to be part of my picture. I feel like my story today is a little dry, but I am with this, especially because you cannot have the same drive and inspiration every day. I am proud as is my 6th day in a row when I am doing this creative exercise and I never expected to be easy and cheerful every day. But as good as it gets, I did show up today for my assignment.
[//]:# (!pinmapple 51.545277 lat 0.609398 long Feeling Uninspired - Take A Walk d3scr)
A traveler friend shared his plans with me about seeing the northern lights in Iceland. When Robert mentioned Iceland a spark inside me lit up and I was ready to jump in the boat. For hikers is a dream and I was planning to see it in the summer someday, but somehow felt the right moment to be there. We booked the same day cheap plane tickets, for the beginning of March 3th till 6th. He flew from Romania to Scotland and from there to Keflavik, the Reykjavik international airport.
I have convinced him that our best bet to see more of this lovely country in a small-time is to rent a car. He was kind of reluctant at the beginning, as he said that they have plenty of ice and snow but I felt I will be able to face it and ready for the extreme challenge. I checked in the advance the parking fee and discovered that more or less is as expensive as the UK, so that was good enough.
I really must mention that the people at the car office rental were so friendly and helpful, that they win my heart in a second. I felt that is the place I will go for sure again in the summer for a camping trip. Half an hour later we were in Reykjavik and parked just in front of our hotel that was situated amazing central 100 m from the big church and the main center, 1 min away from a supermarket that we will find really handy once we checked the prices in restaurants 😀
After the fast and efficient check-in, we were ready to see the little town at night and we hoped for a mixture of a vibrant restaurant and a pub. Well, we found the pub, but they did not serve dinner 😀 So as we were not keen to find it on our own we asked for a recommendation at the bar. We were around 50 meters from our lovely expensive dinner.
We dismiss the Hákarl – Fermented Shark and we chose some normal fish and a local beer. We tried to act normal when our fish was priced at around 32 pounds, only double from the reasonable UK fish and chips price. From someone coming from UK where wages are similar is not so bad, but for someone from living in Romania is a bit over the normal European lifestyle.
It is happening to me pretty much everywhere, I mingle with locals. The restaurant was pretty empty and we only had a couple with us sharing the space. We maybe laughed to loud because at a point they invited us to their table, learned some Icelandic words that I forgot with the next sentence and asked a lot of questions on their life. He was actually Norwegian, they have met in Oslo and decided to move to Iceland where she was born. I remember that Icelandic is like the root for the northern languages, similar with my language. So easy for Icelandic people to speak Norwegian, Swedish. Ok maybe he was a little drunk, but both friendly and they offered a round of beer and hugs at the end.
I have planed for the second day a tour of the Golden Circle, so the most famous tourist attraction nearby apart from the Blue Lagoon that we decide to save for the last day. Below are some of the pictures and videos from that day. After seeing the first attraction I put a mental sticker that I really want to go for at least 2 weeks camping and seeing it a slower pace than from the rush of the car.
We went back home and decided to go later to chase the northern lights that my friend was really keen to see. Armed with an app that informed us when is the best moment and where, we drove to the lighthouse outside the center of Reykjavik to see the wonder. I have seen them in a previous journey in Norway, 6 years ago, so I was mostly sleeping in the car and he was surveying the sky. The place was really nice and quiet and we had many other cars as neighbors. I made friends a German couple that had a different app so we decided together that we are in the best possible spot. Unfortunate aurora was not friendly during our journey in Iceland, but waiting for it was a big part of fun. One picture from the lighthouse below.
The third day was a different adventure, we have decided to go off the beaten track of the tour agencies and we decided for a waterfall in NE, Kirkjufellsfoss. Remember no 4WD and the smallest possible car was our horse for this journey 😀
It took us a while to get back to the capital and I was really concerned at a point that we will be stuck in the middle of nowhere with our tiny vehicle. Luckily the police were really helpful and I might guess very used to people going sideways when they are not used to drive on this weather. My training was done in Romania and with a very small car I used to drive in the mountains, but I never experienced these winds. We did not meet with another car for km and nothingness was the best term to describe the surroundings.
We arrived on our hotel in time for dinner, I went for a fish and chips in a traditional place
Being full, I said I deserve a walk to digest my meal and just walked around the city alone. My friend was resting in the hotel room and I did my kind of favorite walk tour, where the vibe was leading me. Accidentally I arrived by the sea and I found a really cute sculpture
I closed the day with an ice-cream inspired by some Chinese pink girls and I went back to sleep and ready to find out what is our plan for the next day.
The next day was our leisure day, after we were really thinking is we should pay that expensive entrance fee. Well, as we said, once in a while crazy expenditures did not hurt anyone, so we closed our eyes and made the online reservation. I was the one that said it is overrated and we should not do what common people do, but well, life is there to surprise you. It was really nice, I really enjoyed my face mask and healthy mock-tail included in the price.
On the last day, we have decided on a tour of the capital, a city that is cute and with amazing graffiti. It was a sunny Saturday so we were ready to see the last parts before we hit the road back home. We also went inside the famous church and went straight to the tower to see the city from above.
It was absolutely delicious and I hope you took some inspiration to find your own way around this beautiful country. For me is definitively until next time.
Do you remember the first time you pack your bags and felt ready to go out there and see the world through your one eyes/perspective? We can sit at home and travel with our dreams too, but the action is what brings us the adventure and the filling that we actually learned something by experience. I grew up in Romania, in a small town in the north-east and I had no idea how big was the world until I have read my first adventure book. It was the Romanian writer Constantin Chirita and his series “Ciresarii” that inspired me to beg my parents to allow me to go to summer camps since I was maybe 10 years old. Then Mark Twain was the next on my list and I discovered that they are oceans to see, different cultures and my imagination was on fire.
I start to dream a kind of life for me far from the small place I have lived, not because is something wrong with it, but because I become soon an experience junkie. I still remember the summer camp in my very early years with a big fire-pit and with wild horses that were so excited about our presence there in the middle of nowhere that they started to kick our door during late night. I loved everything about that trip, the small poems we used to recite by the fire, the friendship, the connection we had with the other kids in the camp. All this was possible because I am blessed with an amazing family and they believed I can take care of myself on a new environment and would not be scared about the head lice I might come back with – as a gift from them 😀
My first travel outside the country was when I was 19 (could sound so late for many of you) but considering my context and age I was an early adopter. I had to apply for a Schengen visa at the Greece embassy and luckily my lovely auntie, that I was visiting, send her man inside to have a chat and issue the visa on time for our journey. I have seen marvelous places and those 3 months were another beginning for me. One of the places I really recommend from that trip is Vouliagmeni lake, you can see some pictures on the link below:
As per today, I have seen around 61 countries (count made by a friend that we have some sort of competition) and I am always in the mood for new discoveries. I like to travel alone and mingle with locals, to taste strange food (like some awful spicy donuts in a Divali festival in New Dehli), to be inspired by musicians and follow them in strange places. I trust people wherever I go and that is my gift and reward at the same time. I have seen hidden treasures, sunrise in the desert with receptionists, tea on the mountains with simple people but warm-hearted. I really believe Earth is a safe place and fear is just a tool we need to work so that we can overcome it.
I have tried scuba-diving in the best seas of this world, paragliding on the mountains, snowboarding, sand-boarding, kite-surfing, paddle-boarding, flying in helicopters and small planes, down-hill cycling from 4700 meters and one of the biggest zip-lines in Peru. If there is a new activity I have missed I probably tried or is on my list. I believe fear is now my constant friend and even some of you might consider me crazy I believe is better to live your fears than constantly wondering how they are going to be overcome. I have a bit of claustrophobia, so toilets in plains used to be a challenge until they become just a bit annoying. I like to discover parts of me that I did not know in different situations and to push the limits around my personal walls. I am not a hero of any kind, just a very keen learner and I tend to believe that the biggest gift we have as humans is to adapt to new situations. But remember we need to put ourselves in new situations, otherwise, we are going to be in the same place for a long time.
I don’t have a favorite country from the ones I have seen, I love them all with their particularities and with their people and eccentricities. I felt that more I travel more I meet people like me, everywhere on this planet. People that mean well, curious to allow you as you are in their different culture, society, mind perspective. You should never trust the news-media and go see it on your own and feel it with your own gut. We are all the same with good and bad. Of course, I have been robbed in Chile but at the same time, in Romania, at least 3 times and friends from South-America were robbed in London, so everywhere are some bad seeds. But in my case, those people never put me off traveling or enjoying the rest of their country.
So I guess I am a strong advocate of my favorite passion and is sad for me when people choose to go every year in the same sea resort, with food similar to the one home and plenty of alcohol to help them forget why they are even there in the first place. But could be that some of us expand their world in different ways than mine and jugging is not helping either of us. There is a big world out there and my case today for it, is that is beautiful because is differentbut then again so much alike.
“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin
Do not forget to use my comment section as I like to read your thoughts on this subject. How do we make people travel more and feel safe when they do?