Category Archives: Outdoor

The Golden State – California

What’s up? Everything good? You tried your first ginger bread jet? I did and that means it’s December folks. It’s been a while since I wrote my last post. My trip to California this summer was literally a hot highlight and I still want to share some impressions, thoughts and tips with you. I desperately need to remember these sunny days to better survive good cool Germany at the moment. So let’s catch up on this! We went hiking and camping and also spent a few nights in Motels and Hostels.

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Las Vegas

I flew in to Las Vegas from Frankfurt with Condor (cheap and good, but you pay extra for vegetarian food, which I think is unfair). The long flight and the air-conditioning killed me for a few days, but after that it was great. We rented a car and it was kind of a slow road trip that started with the “Valley of Fire” in Nevada (Valley of fire state park) and “The Death Valley” in California.

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Valley of Fire in Nevada
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Amargosa’s Opera House in the dessert

California experienced the fifth very dry summer in a roll and you most likely heard about the fires around Los Angeles. However we were very lucky and had no problems. 40-some degrees are really a challenge for me, but the experience is impressive and California deserves the nickname. You drive for hours through a dessert-like environment. The colors are fascinating. Once we passed a prison on our way to the Death Valley and I was wondering how it must be for the people to serve a sentence there. How does the isolation and the silence effectuate the souls? Then all of a sudden you reach a petrol station and you wonder that there are so many people around that you missed out on the road. Always feels like your car is the only car until you reach a car park. They sold all kinds of alien souvenirs at that station and I thought: jepp, this environment supports that idea.

Then we went hiking in the Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyan National Park and Yosemite National Park (website of the National Park Service). Only day hikes however, because we lost time in the beginning due to my flu and I didn’t felt a hundred percent fit again. The Buck Rock Firelookout is a must-do in the Sequoia NP. Mountain lions are in the area as well. http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/buck-rock-fire-lookout-trail

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Yosemite National Park – View of the Half Dome
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On the John Muir Trail for one day

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You should also not miss a hike to Indian Rock and the North Dome in Yosemite NP. We drove up Tioga Road and spent a few days on a small and basic campground. You don’t need a reservation during week, but on weekends it can be very crowded in the summer.

Next stop was San Francisco and simply said: it’s a lovely city and fellt more like a little town. The bridge, the fog, the harbor, the people, the foot (fantastic food really), the atmosphere. Only surprise was our chat with an African-American guy in the laundry. He was a good guy, father, fan of Angela Merkel, praised Germany and still wanted to vote for Trump. What he talked about was the feeling of a nation in simple words and when I heard the outcome of the elections a few weeks ago I thought about him again.

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Then we drove up Highway 101 for a while and spent a few days on the coast, before driving into Portland to catch a flight back to Frankfurt. I found Portland was a bit disappointing and I was shocked about the high number of homeless people. What I loved most about Oregon are the huge Sand Dunes. That is how it must be in the Sahara, but the temperatures on the Pacific Northwest Coast are so much easier to handle for hikers. http://www.oregon.com/recreation/oregon-dunes

http://blog.oregonlive.com/terryrichard/2011/07/oregon_dunes_offers_attractive.html

And we saw whales from the coast line, so that’s definitely a great reason to return to Oregon again one day! Any comments or thoughts!? Go ahead.

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Camino: From St. Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona

You might wonder why I stoped writing all of a sudden!? Well I went on a walk at the end of May, without any technical equipment really, so I just wrote my diary. In June I started to work full time in a new position at the Academy of Performing Arts in Ludwigsburg and since then I lost track somehow. On the Camino you walk, you talk, you eat and you sleep. I really enjoyed that! In the working world you work, you eat and you sleep. I’m struggeling to adapt myself to the office circle of life at the moment…maybe that is why I was thinking about the Camino experience again tonight. I’m so glad that I joined Chris and Deanne for that one week. It was not my idea to walk the Camino but such a wonderful opportunity to meet friends again and try out some pilgrimage. They wrote a great blog about their camino experience, that you can read here by the way. A few days before I left Frankfurt (Germany) for Bilbao (Spain) I found out that Angie, a friend of mine from Halifax (Canada), was also one her way to walk the Camino. Unfortunately I was not able to meet her, because we started 3 days earlier and I had to return on time to start my new job, but Deanne and Chris did met her on the way. What I learned from all this is, that the world is such a small place nowadays. You just need to communicate your ideas. Maybe a friend would be up for the very same adventure you just dream about, if you would ask. Most often we stop dreaming and say naaa, it’s not gonna work out…but that’s not true. So it’s time to share some picture and dream about traveling tonight.

We have met up in San Sebastian and bused to Bayonne to catch a train to go to St. Jean Pied de Port. Make sure that you print out the way to your hotel from the train station in St. Jean Pied de Port to the place where you are staying and be prepared to get lost in France anyway. It’s really funny. Such a small village and thousands of pilgrims from arround the world, who arrive there every year, but they don’t put up any sings at the train station. We have made it anyway – no worries – and once you are on the trail you are fine. I really loved the walk over the Pyrenees and it’s a good thought to know that I already did the most beautiful and most difficult part of the walk. Thank you Deanne and Chris!!!

I walked the fallowing stages:

St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles (27.7 km): The weather was bad in the early morning, good when we started to walk at 9 am and very rainy and cold from 1 pm on until we arrived in the very comfortable albergue.

Roncesvalles to Zubiri (21 km): Good weather conditions, no complains.

Zubiri to Pamplona (20 km): Great weather. Very sunny day, but we missed Deanne as she had to catch a bus, because of knie issues.

Eveybody we met on the trail had some knie or uncle issues. I guess it’s because the very first stages are very difficult. So what you really need to walk the Camino is a knee bandage, anty inflame cream guys and a good jacket to protect you from the cold on top of the Pyrenees.

I catched a bus from Pamplona back to Bilbao, but I would like to continue my walk some day in the future and I already know it’s easy to get there. 😉 So if I decide that I’m unhappy in the office, but don’t know jet what else I would like to do I could just continue this journey and see what happens.

Walk on and take care!

PS: Yes I visited the theater in Pamplona. Guess what: they only have 14 permanent employees. I don’t know how this art system works…unbelievable.

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Teatro Gayarre

Food and Trafic Stories about Beijing

I am so German. That´s what I think, when I think about how I experienced China. I realized that I like rules you know, but in China nobody cares. Traffic regulations? Forget about it. The bigger the car the more likely it´s gonna run you over – no matter what. Green lights, crosswalks…whatever. The traffic is a nightmare and it takes forever to get from A to B, however they have a good metro system. Not to talk about the smog. Why line up, when you can cheat? 1000 people running to a train to catch a seat once they opend the doors to the platform. I saw it happening when we made a trip to the Great Wall. Kids and aged people struggeling alike. Overpopulation is really a problem for me. That´s for sure. What else. Hardly anybods speaks a word english. It´s very tiring if you can´t talk with anybody for two weeks. Not even small talk. Nothing. They look at you like you are an alien if you try it. If you try to speak poor Mandarin it´s even worse. I also like fix prices I guess. Tell me a price and I tell you if I would like to buy it or not, but in China you simple debate about prices all time time. Their is no fix price. I thought about getting a massage at the ariport right befor my departure. They had an official price list…at the end she said 200 and I said no, because the whole situation drove me crazy. I wanted to get an honest information about what I can expect…like what are the differences between the various options concerning the massages. No change. She smiled like she was high. It all was a big joke. Why fallow safety at work … one chinese more or les … nobody will notice it anyway. OK. I am getting cynical here. I really had problems to survive in China and I´m happy that I was not slain by a brick. It´s not my country, but it was an interessisting experience. The food was great and our trip to the Great Wall was awesome. We visited a spot that was not jet crowded by tourist. A wilder area close to a small lovelz village. They will build a holiday village there in the next few years unfortunately. We already saw the signs for the Great Wall Holiday Village. I loved the old opera house in the Forbidded City and of cause there are lovely hidden places like small theaters or roof-deck bars. Need to rethink all the experiences again, but now I am ready to walk a bit of the Camino. I arrived in Bilbao / Spain and I am very excited to meet up with Deanne and Chris from NZ tomorrow. I worked for them in their lovely restaurant on Stewart Island. They had planed to walk the Camino and I decided to join them for a few days. Hurra!

Fresh Orange Juice is a Lifestyle

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Barcelona (view from Tibidabo Hill

Are you ready for a Week in Barcelona!? No preparation necessary. Just go for it! Barcelona is a perfect destination in the fall, especially, if you are traveling alone and are hungry for sunshine, arts and culture. I was sick of the rain in Germany and booked the flights spontaneously with Lufthansa for only 138 Euros. The costs for accommodation are small as well and you can expect to spend about 15 to 20 Euros per night in the off-season.

I stayed in a single room at the Pension Francia for a few nights in a part of the town that is called La Ribera (a great location). What makes the city so vibrant is the fact, that life takes places outside. The waterfront is a big playground, the pubs and restaurants are packed and it’s lovely to get lost in the medieval streets.

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Montserrat

I went hiking for two days in the Montserrat area as well and spent a whole day to explore the forest around Tipidabo Hill. The last few days I stayed in a place that was called Teatro Hostel, because I was up for a bit more company.

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Teatro Hostel in Barcelona

It’s a comfy little place to stay right next to El Raval, where you can find small theaters, galleries and bars all over the place. On Friday they have a Mojito night at the hostel, which was a lot of fun. Thanks to a guy that I met in the hostel I ended up in a lovely little Gallery with a small stage that is called Sala Fenix (La Rieveta 31). Every Monday night at 9:30 pm they have a Jam Session that you should not miss, if you are in town and like Jazz.

My favorite spots downtown include:

Tibidabo

The church La Sagrada Familia (on a sunny day, to make sure that you see the awesome colors of the windows)

Tibidabo Hill or Montjuic (for great views)

El Raval (for Indian food, bars and a medieval flair)

Mercat de la Boqueria (fresh fruits and other stuff to eat)

Restaurant Al Passatores in El Born for a great breakfast with fresh orange juice

Palmen