Quarantaine reads

All of a sudden the world came to a complete stop in March. It is odd to think that things that used to be so normal just a couple of weeks ago are now things of the past. Luckily we were in an intelligent lockdown, which means we could still go outside to hike and exercise close to home.

Since we all spend so much time at home I thought I would write a blogpost about some of my favorite books. I have loved to read ever since I was a child. I am the person that always carries a book around, wherever she goes. Luckily for me my Kindle has made this so much easier. It is my go to when I travel, but sometimes there are books that just need to physically be on my bookshelves.

Today I will share a couple of my favorite books I have read over the past couple of years.

1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I have read this book multiple times by now and I notice that I keep going back to it. It is so well written and it just makes you want to put on your hiking boots and hike the PCT by yourself. Truly inspiring for every outdoor enthousiast.

2. The great Alone by Kristin Hannah

This is a great novel about a family moving to small homestead in Alaska. There they face the hardship of living in the wilderness. It makes you appreciate the simple things in life. It is one of those books that is just hard to put down.

3. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming is a truly empowering book about life before, during and after the presidency of Barack Obama. This book is heartfelt and honest. I loved reading this book. It never felt quite like reading an autobiography, but more like a novel.

4. Memoirs of a geisha by Arthur Golden

Last year I read this book for the second time. The first time I read this book was in high school. It stuck with me and I just had to read it a second time. Both times I loved it from start to finish. It gives you an insight in the Japanese geisha culture before World War Two. The book truly mesmerized me.

5. The Great Alone by Tim Voors

When this book was released in the Netherlands I received a copy of this book in Dutch. It has recently been published in English. It is an amazing book. Which I could hardly put down. I also loved the addition of the pictures and Tim his artwork in the book. It is a great book for everyone who loves the outdoors. Tim writes about his experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

6. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

This is a series that had to be on my list of go to reads. I have read the series multiple times and it just never gets old. If you have never read them I would highly recommend doing so.

7. The sun does shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

Some books leave you thinking after reading them for a while. This is one of those books. Anthony writes about his conviction to death row, while he couldn’t possibly have committed the crime he was accused of. It tells the story of his battle with the legal system proving his innocence.

8. All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr

I love to read books about World War Two. This one is set in Saint Malo, France. It tells the story of a young girl, who is blind, they flee from Paris to Saint Malo. Where she meets Werner, a German soldier. It is one of those books that you won’t be able to put down.

9. The Time Traveller’s wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This book tells the love story of Clare and Henry, who life decades apart and meet during his time travels. This book keeps you wondering how this will end. It is an unconventional love story, but a must read.

10. Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I have read this book multiple times. I also read the sequence. The book tells the story of Elizabeth after her divorce. She travels the world to three places, which stand into big contrast to each other, first it is Italy, then India and to end the trip she goes to Bali. The book tells you a story of healing and finding inner peace.

Have you read any of these books? Which books do you like to read?

Would love to hear your book recommendations.

What to do in Austria when you are not skiing?

When I lived in the States during High School. Snow was a given during winter. Here in The Netherlands it isn’t, but I love a good snow day. So to see snow this year I headed out to Austria. 

When you say Austria during winter time. Here in The Netherlands the first question you get asked is: “Are you going skiing?” When your answer is no, people start wondering what it is you are going to do there during the winter.

I found out first hand that Austria is so much more during winter than just a ski destination.

My three tips on what to do when you don’t want to go skiing.

1. Winter hiking

In summer you will find numerous hiking trails in Austria. But even in winter you will  find loads of trails. There are snow shoe trails or regular winter hiking trails. Take note which one you will be hiking before you start the hike. On the regular winter hiking trails all you need is a good pair of hiking boots. Which makes it accessible to most people. The trails are well marked and cleaned up daily. Some trails will take you to huts at the top of the ski slopes and on some trails you will barely even see a soul.

There are trails in all ranges from fairly easy to hikes with a lot of elevation gains. I did several hikes while in Austria, ranging in difficulty:
– wintertrail in Fieberbrunn. I started the trail at the church in Fieberbrunn and hiked up to the hut at Stroebuden, hiking through forests and breathtaking mountain views, but with quite a bit of elevation gain;
– trail starting from Leogang to Knappenstube in the Schwarzleo Tal, which is closed during winter, but it is a fairly easy hike taking you along the river and through the forest;
Asitz Hoch Station. You can take the lift up from Leogang, which is free for one day if you are staying in the area. There is a hiking trail on top of the mountain with the most incredible 360 degree view of the mountains around Leogang. You will hike here from about 1.700 meters up to 2.000 meters. The only downside is that you will hike along the ski slopes and there is no hiking trail back to the Mittel Station, which means the only way down is by lift if you aren’t skiing;
The Achensee, on the last day I visited the Achensee, where there is a trail leading along the banks of the lake. It is a beautiful place and an easy hike.

2. Sleigh rides

If you do want to slide of a mountain, skiing or snowboarding isn’t the only option. In most places they have sleigh tracks. You just pick up a sleigh at the bottom of the lift and carry it up with you to the top to ride it back down to the valley again on special tracks just for this. It is an activity for the entire family.

3. Relax
One thing they know how to do in Austria after a day in the outdoors is how to relax. In most hotels you will find saunas that you can use, but there are also public ones in some towns. What is a better way to end a day of hiking while relaxing in the sauna?

Have you ever been to the Alps during winter? If yes did you do any activities that weren’t ski related?

Our neverendng wanderlust Austria wintergetaway

What is in my camera bag?

As an amateur photographer I always wonder what is in someone elses camera bag. So I decided to share what is in my camera bag.

Nikon D7200

Last year I traded up my camera from a Nikon D40 to a Nikon D7200. A descission I haven’t regretted yet.

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Lenses

I bought my camera in a kit with a lense, an 18-140mm, which I love when I travel, because it gives me the flexibility of switching between a landscape an a zoom lens in a second. A couple of months after this lens I also bought a 50 mm lens. Which I love for the small size and the lofh, which makes it an ideal lens to carry around.

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Accessories

I also carry around a tripod, a couple of filters and always an extra battery. I got the extra battery as soon as I went out to shoot and the sunset was amazing, but I left my battery in my charger at home. So the day after I went and bought an extra battery.

I also carry two SD cards with me, because you never know.

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What is in your camera bag?

My thoughts on travel

Over the last few years we haven’t gone on any long distance trips. And you know what? That is okay too. You don’t always have to fly halfway across the world to see the most incredible sights. There are so many incredible sights in our own backyard, as long as we are willing to see those places.

The last two years, we have traveled through Europe, mainly because it wouldn’t be a good idea to fly halfway across the world after a one week hospital stay in Sweden in 2015 and a lot of hospital visits for the past two and a half years.

For the last couple of months we have been talking about taking our first long haul flight again. There are some destinations we can’t go due to vaccinations. Some vaccinations can be dangerous in combination with certain medicine, so always make sure to check with your doctor before getting any vacinations.

But after traveling in Europe for the past two years I realised we have everything we could want at a driving distance. There is France and Spain with beaches and mountains. Luxemburg and Germany with forests and all those other beautiful countries.

And in 2016 I completly fell in love with Italy, I mean the food is heaven and they have everything you need. They have beaches, old cities and mountains. It is such a versatile country. I can’t wait to go back there.

 


My other love in Europe is Basque Country. Which isn’t crowded with tourists yet and has so many outdoor options. I hope it won’t get overflown with tourist due to Game of Thrones, which has some film locations there, check out my blog about one of the film locations here Game of Thrones series part 1. If I would move within Europe, I am pretty sure it would be to Basque Country. I mean the food, the people and the area are all just amazing.

 


I am sure we will make long distance trips again in the near future, but we certainly won’t forget what we already have close to home. If you want to travel on a budget it is always a good option to stay closer to home.

Do you always fly halfway across the world or do you combine it with traveling closer to home?

 

The bucketlist

I am sure you have read a million post like this already, but I wanted to write about my bucket list anyway.

Ever since I was little I have had the travel bug and every time we tick something of I will ad a new one to the list. So my list never gets shorter, but only longer.

Today I want to share with you 10 things that are on my bucket list:

1. New Zealand

This country has been on my bucket list for ages, for all the obvious reasons. I mean an outdoor enthusiast like me could never not want to go here.

2. Norway

Technicly I have been to Norway already, but since I won’t count flying out from Oslo, whilst going to Sweden it is still up on the bucketlist. One day I would love to take the Hurtigruten all the way North and travel back south by train.

3. Faroe Islands

a couple of years ago Floortje Dessing went to this island for the tv show ‘het einde van de wereld’ or the end of the world tv series. Ever since the Faroe Islands have been on my bucket list, because these Islands look incredible.

4. Japan

Japan is out of character on my list, but I have never been to Asia and for some reason I feel drawn to visit Japan one day. I would love to see the crazyness of Tokyo one day and emerge myself in history in Osaka. And ofcourse visit and hike mount Fuji.

5. Finland

I would love to visit Lapland during the winter. In Holland we don’t get very much snow and I would love to see a place like Finland covered in snow and watch the aurora.

6. Iceland

Who doesn’t have Iceland on his bucket list? It is one of those must visit places.

7. Washington State

This place has been on my list for a while now, but since one of my friends from Ohio will be moving here, I think I will see a whole lot of beautiful Washington State soon. I actually told her I would visit her there as soon as she moves there and she will have to put up with me every year as soon as she moves, because I will be going there at least one holiday a year. Good thing they love to have us over!

8. Canada

I have already been to Canada, but never to the west coast. Places like Banff, Whistler, Jasper, Vancouver Island all are on my list. I think I need a couple of months there to see all the things I want to see. Maybe I need to consider moving!

9. Scotland

Even though the United Kingdom is practicly around the corner I have never been there and one place that is high up on my list is Scotland. We were planning on going there this year, but then all of a sudden we sold our house after it had been listed for 6 months and we had only 6 weeks to find a rental property. This is crazy when it is just the two of you, but it is even more crazy when you add a dog in the mix. So we had to cancel our Scotland trip. Hoping to make it out there in the next year or two though, because I would love to hike part of the West Highland way and see the isle of Skye with my own eyes.

10. The Picos, Spain

And last but not least, the Picos in Spain. We were actually going there this year, but we really didnt plan our roadtrip and we loved the Basque coast so much that we stayed there longer then we planned. I am sure I will be able to tick this one of my list very soon.

Since 2017 is slowly drawing to a close. I will post a 2018 bucketlist, with different activities, so you can keep me accountable!

What does your bucketlist look like?

 

A day in Donostia/San Sebastian

San Sebastian, which is named Donostia in Basque, is absolutely one of my favorite cities. It has the most relaxing atmosphere, where it almost feels like you are not even in a city at all.

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So today I want to share with you three things I absolutely loved to do in Donostia:

1. Pinxtos

Eat Pinxtos in the old town.
In the old town, Parte Viejo, the streets are bustling with life. You will find Pinxtos bars at every corner, where you can get the best food you can imagine. I seriously could have stayed here all day and eat all day long.

In the old town you will also find some amazing architecture, like the Basilica of St Mary de Chorus. You will also find the Plaza de la constition in the old town. At the plaza the numbers of the balconies will take you back in time to where this plaza was used as a bull ring.

2. Mount Igeldo

After you have eaten your way through the old town, I would suggest you put on your walking shoes and walk along the beach of Concha bay to mount Igeldo. The Concha bay is incredible, I can tell you that. At mount Igeldo you can take the funicular railway up to the top, where you have amazing views of the city Donostia.

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There is also a restaurant and a little amusement park at the top.

We hiked around here during our visits and we just took in the amazing views of the city, which were just incredible.

After you come back down, I can’t imagine ever getting tired of those views though. You can visit the Peine del Viento, the sculpture at the end of Concha bay, which is a beautiful piece of art. We absolutely loved it.

3. Enjoy one of the beaches or go shopping
Last but not least I would suggest to relax at one of the beaches Donostia has to offer or go shopping, but keep in mind that the stores are closed until four in the afteroon!

We decided to do both and first we had some drinks at one of the terraces along the bay, enjoying the beach view.

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Tell me what was your favorite place in Donostia or San Sebastian?

I know one thing for sure and that is that we will be back, because I fell head over heels in love with this amazing city, if you ever get the chance to visit, you have to!

Camping on a budget in Europe

We absolutely love to go camping, but during summer prices for a camping pitch go up to around 40-50 euros per night. So here are some tips on how we get the most nights out of our budget.

1. Go camping during off season
One thing we do to stretch our budget as much as possible is travel during the off season. Prices are always way better and the tourist attractions are way less crowded too. This year we had a enormous parking lot at Rocamadour, France, all to ourselves in May. Especially if you travel down south the weather will be good too, in Italy and Spain temperatures most likely will be somewhere in the lower 20 degree Celsius.

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2. Use a camping card, like ACSI
We get an ACSI card every single year and we use it to go camping in the off season, sometimes you do have to pay full price though on holidays, but prices will mostly drop back down right after. With ACSI you will be pay 11/13/15/17/19 euros per night for two people, electricity, a dog, and hot showers, depending on the campsite you picked. They have campsites in all different categories, from big campsites to smaller campsites.

In Holland we also use ‘Het Groene Boekje’ which you will need if you want to go camping at smaller nature campsites.

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3. Bring a stove and cook your own dinner
This really is an easy one, just bring a stove, a pan and a kettle and you can cook your own meals and brew your own coffee. While you are at it, I would recommend going to the local markets and pick up some fresh and local produce.

Especially when we take Milow, we really don’t want to go through the hastle of going somewhere to eat. He likes other dogs a bit too much sometimes, unfortunately.

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4. Drink tapwater if possible
In a lot of European countries it is really safe to drink tapwater, so I would suggest bringing a couple of reusable water bottles and fill those up every day.

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5. Go hiking!
Hiking is always free, and you will see so much of the enviroment if you go hiking. It is our favorite activity to do when we go camping! We always find campsite where there are trails close by, and they get extra points if they have trails starting from the campsite.

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What are your favorite tips for camping on a budget?

 

The start of something new

After thinking about starting a blog for ages, I finally decided to give it a go and start up my own blog. I want my blog to be my outlet for all the stories I have in my head and all the pictures I have made over the past couple of years, which I can tell you there are a lot of them and right now they are just collecting dust on my hard drive.

Most of our adventures are spend camping around Europe, but I have also lived in Ohio for a year while I was a teenager, so we try to visit the states every so often.

Right now our home base is the Netherlands, so I will try to tell you as much as possible about the Netherlands.

Besides travelling I also have another big love, which is photography. I love to shoot new places and to show you the beauty of this world through my shots, because there really is so much beauty in this world.

I hope you will want to follow along on our crazy adventures.