An Amalfi Coast adventure on two wheels

A narrow road in Italy calls for a scooter. Nothing else will do.

When a friend of my CouchSurfing host in Pompei offered to take me around the Amalfi Coast on his scooter, I was thrilled.

He called up the morning of our planned trip to tell me the weather didn’t look so good so we would go by car instead. Instantly, I was gutted.
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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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Getting dizzy at Sagrada Família in Barcelona

Spiral staircase at Gaudí’s Sagrada Família

Gaudí’s Sagrada Família in Barcelona is an ongoing project.

Begun in 1882, Gaudí made his plans mainly in his head and on the fly. When he died, no blueprints were left (some had been burned but most were non-existent), so architects taking on the massive project (projected to finish in 2026, 144 years after it was started) must try to imagine what Gaudí would have wanted.

The Sagrada Família feels like it’s just dripping with nature-inspired Gothic architecture. The columns supporting the church are meant to look like trees, the pointy spires become bowls with fruit and berries and the spiral staircases look like snail shells. The ceiling looks like the canopy of a forest and birds soar around the outside of the building.

Lacking any purely flat surfaces, there is a lot to admire in this church.

Visiting the enormous church mid-construction is certainly interesting, but if you head to the side entrance on Carrer Sardenya (just ask someone working), you can attend mass in either Catalan or Spanish. There are no English services.

While everyone is welcome (you won’t be turned away unless you’re inappropriately dressed), the service is intended for the local congregation. You might not understand any of it, but it’s a great (and free) way to see the inside of the church and get a lesson in Catalan or Spanish.

Check out the rest of my visit to Spain, including Barcelona, Girona and hiking in Montserrat with a day hitchhiking to Besalú, Castellfollit de la Roca and Olot.


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.


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.


Secrets of London’s Oyster Card

Planning a trip to London? Great! This post is for you.

Live in London and haven’t discovered all the perks of your Oyster Card yet? Read on.

London’s Oyster Card not only gets you around London but also offers secret 2-for-1 deals not prominently advertised and unique card designs you have to ask for specially.

Oyster Cards are more than just the travel card most people use them for. Even a Londoner can learn something here.
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Turkey: 3 sites beyond Istanbul worth visiting

Turkey is a beautiful country, but to those who haven’t been there before, I’ll tell you the secret: there’s a lot more to Turkey than Istanbul.

Outside the capital, there is an amazing amount to see and compared to busy Istanbul, it’s much calmer and relatively tourist-free.

The further east you go, the less European and the more Asian or Middle Eastern it starts to feel.

It’s a long bus ride from Istanbul to central Turkey, but the trip is well worth it!
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