For the first few days in the Lapland, the weather went against all my hopes of seeing either the stars or the northern lights; the sky was completely covered in clouds, day and night.
On the third day, walking back from the center of Inari, I experienced almost a déjà vu of my first adventure here. Again pitch dark and again trying to survive the cold and the passing cars on the side of the road.
It was just 4 o’clock in the afternoon but already as dark as it gets.
Just moments before being rescued (once again) by Jussa’s father, I noticed a light in the sky. At first excited, I quickly realized it must just be a small hole in the clouds, from which a small spot of light was coming through – nothing like the clear sky I was hoping for.
It was just after dinner that the single spot was joined by a multitude of other lights.
Taking this as a sign, I started checking aurora forecasts regularly to keep an eye on the solar wind gauges. (Funny thing about the aurora forecast service: every day, a single guy, in Finland, checks the solar data, the sky and his gut feeling and updates the website with the forecast of the night.) Continue Reading
The arrival in Rovaniemi was nice and smooth, despite my host not being around at the time (she was working as a nurse at the ER). Her brother was there and he kept me company in the evening. We tried out the house-sauna and afterwards jumped in the snow. Freezing amazing! (quite lame, I am aware.)
Delimitation of the Arctic Circle (the blue light) at the Santa Claus village
As in Sweden (posts 1, 2, 3 and 4), I took the chance to visit the north of Finland during the winter break. I absolutely love snowy weather and, up until the end of December, there was no snow in Helsinki, so that pushed me to seek white-covered landscapes outside the city.
The trip had the usual mix of good planning and ‘let’s-see-what-happens’ that I like to have when travelling. The rough idea was to first stop by Oulu, head to Rovaniemi (right on the Arctic Circle imaginary line) and then somehow keep going north into the Lapland (hey, also the name of this series!).
So, only certain of my bus ticket and my Couchsurfing host, I headed to Oulu! Continue Reading
As a final trip before our departure, we walked just outside Shkodër to the Rozafa Castle.
The castle, due to its strategic location, has a very long history, dating back hundreds of years. It overlooks the whole area around Shkodër from its height.
Being very close to the border, we decided to stop by Ulcinj, a nice little town near the sea.
It was short day-trip to completely relax and, finally, enjoy a good swim in the sea.
Other than the numerous boats and water-scooters roaming the waters, the spot was a fair typical beach scene.
This was until a guy showed off his cool new gadget! Continue Reading
The boat trip on the Koman/Komani Lake (which, to be honest, kind of looks like a river to me) is a common destination for travelers, especially if they are interested in hiking in the north of Albania. In fact, this is the most beautiful and scenic way to get to Fierza (a small town where many hiking trails begin).
Since the hostel was in very close contact with one (possibly the only one) of the transportation companies bringing people from Shkodër to Fierza, we were given a couple of tickets for a day-trip on the ferry. Continue Reading
Working in a hostel, you often hear people visiting specific attractions or, perhaps, you might even be the one suggesting some of those places. For us, the problem was that we hadn’t had the chance to go around much in the first few days.
One of the many beautifully sunny days in Shkoder, we managed to get half a day off to bike around the town.
With our bikes, we knew where we wanted to go: Lake Shkodra. It is one of the main attractions of Shkodër and it’s just about 10 minutes away from the hostel by bike, we just had to go there.
We crossed a very unsafe-looking wooden bridge and continued onto a road which lead to the lake. Continue Reading
After getting on a rather dodgy-looking bus in Tirana, we managed to reach the center of Shkodër. Luckily, the hostel was nearby and we were greeted by the owners and showed around.
The hostel looked nice: very welcoming and friendly, especially because of the open area where all the travelers could rest or socialize.
The owners brought us to a nearby restaurant and we devoured the food. Continue Reading
A long bus ride brought us to Greece and more precisely to Thessaloniki.
This city is one of those places that I often read about in history books at school when studying Ancient Greece. It always gives me a great feeling to finally be able to connect a historically important location to some actual images.
I can’t help but imagine how it could have been back then to live here, obviously failing to do so and falling back into idealized scenes, probably from a movie.
White Tower of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is not too big but there are quite a few places to visit and things to do. Continue Reading
During our stay in Istanbul, we were hosted by a good friend of mine who also acted as our personal guide and activity planner.
One day, together with some new friends, we planned to go to spend a day at the island of Büyükada, barbecuing and chilling on the hills.
Sunset on the way home
In the morning, we headed to the ferry, got to Büyükada and fetched our beloved Çiğ köfte (both the vegetarian and the meat version) and bread from some locals. With our supplies in hand, we walked to the location: a hill overlooking the sea.
Our team of 5 managed, after a conspicuous amount of time, lit a rather decent fire for the barbecue. The time was mainly due to going through all the different strategies and techniques for making a fire which each of us could come up with. Continue Reading