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Take a hike! 5 unique treks in Europe

Travelling isn’t just about going to museums, learning new customs and eating different food. It can also be a chance to get out and enjoy the fresh air.

Hiking during a trip is a wonderful opportunity to get out of the city, off the trains and into the wilderness. With a decent pair of shoes, a waterproof raincoat and a bottle of water (and maybe a map and a phone), you’re off to the mountains.
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It’s all Greek to me – travelling in the land of the gods

‘It’s all Greek to me.’

This saying really hit home after travelling in Greece, the land of the gods. Gods who certainly had a different idea of common sense than I do.

I’ve travelled all over Europe, but this was my first time in a country where I wasn’t only unable to speak the language – I couldn’t even read it!

Staying in Athens, it was all I could do to remember my stop to get off the metro – the one with the two upside-down ‘y’s and the funny ‘O’ – Kallithea (Καλλιθέα).
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Albanian hospitality – Çift, çift?

Albania is a great place to be a tourist. While some may associate Albania with communism, the country’s citizens greet visitors with welcome arms and open borders. And plenty of curiosity.

Albanians are anything but shy. Soon after crossing paths, you’ll tell them about your trip, they’ll get excited about the regions in Albania you’ve visited (‘shumë bukur’‘very nice’, should follow as a description of each city) and eventually, inevitably you’ll get the question:

‘Çift, çift?’
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A giant, some geology and a myth

Basalt columns at Giant’s Causeway

Northern Ireland is steeped with geological history and ancient mythology. When visiting Giant’s Causeway, you can choose to believe either one.

Geological history says that 50-60 thousand years ago, Country Antrim was at the centre of intense volcanic activity. Lava flowed from the eruptions and dried, cracked and adjusted, giving us the steps or pillars found at Giant’s Causeway.

You can find similar formations around the world, but they’re usually on a smaller scale. The size of the columns partially depends on how fast the lava cooled.

Ancient mythology tells us that the Irish warrior Finn MacCool was challenged by a Scottish giant.

When the giant crossed the bridge from Scotland, Finn has his wife dress him up as a baby.When the Scottish giant saw the size of the baby, he ran, fearing that the baby’s father, Finn, would be even larger. As he fled, he tore up the bridge so the enormous Finn MacCool couldn’t follow him to Scotland.

The remnants of the bridge have come to be known as Giant’s Causeway and similar basalt columns can be found in Scotland.

Check out more of my visit to Giant’s Causeway and my other Northern Irish adventures.

Guilty until proven innocent?

When I arrived back in the States after 20 months in Europe, I had no way of getting a hold of my dad to tell him my flight had arrived at the airport and I was through security. I hadn’t planned ahead so I didn’t have any American dollars to call from a phone booth. I decided to do what I had done many times with a language barrier but without hassle. I decided to borrow someone’s phone to call him.
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London’s famous bell and bridge

Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

There’s a lot more to the city than Big Ben, but this view is a classic – taken from western Golden Jubilee Bridge, one of the pair of pedestrian bridges with a train line between them. A much better view than from Westminster Bridge, in my opinion.

Interesting fact: ‘Big Ben’ is not the name of the clock nor the tower – just of the bell that chimes regularly. The tower was renamed ‘The Elizabeth Tower’ for the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. It has been renamed before to honour Queen Victoria’s 60-year reign in 1860.

Check out my other posts about my previous trips to England and my relocation to London.

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Ancient mounds, Irish sheep and the Ark of the Covenant?

The Hill of Tara, just northwest of Dublin, was the traditional seat of the High King of Ireland, where kings were crowned. Various ditches, mounds and banks can be seen (even on Google Maps) forming circles and spirals on the man-made hill.

Even with its history dating back 5,000 years, containing Roman artefacts from the 1st-3rd centuries and at one point thought to hold the Ark of the Covenant, sheep are still free to roam the mounds with the tourists.

Check out other posts about my time in Ireland.