Guys. My left shoulder is in serious pain- I can barely lift my arm above a 30 degree angle to my body- and this is mainly due to the fact that I just got back from zip-lining through the treetops of the Costa Rican rainforest, during which I clung on so tight for dear life that I almost dislocated an arm in the process. I am also completely mud-spattered and bedraggled from the rain. BUT. And this is a big but. Doing that zip lining course was the most fun I’ve had in full on ages, I’ll tell you that for free. After docking in Puerto Limón, a port city on the East coast of Costa Rica, a big old bunch of us headed to Brisas de la Jungla (that’s Jungle Breeze to you non-Spanish-speaking folk), to get a bit closer to some good old fashioned nature whilst simultaneously being very very very much higher off the ground than normal. The fact that it was raining didn’t matter one bit (I mean, it is rainforest territory after all, so what do you expect?), although I’m going to be honest here and admit that I was quite concerned that the quantity of water on the zip lines would seriously affect the speed with which we zipped from one treetop platform to the next. Turns out, just like every other time I’m massively afraid of something but decide to go for it anyway, I had nothing to fear whatsoever! (Sort of)
After a few days alone in Santorini, the tiny town of Monemvasia was the first stop on our Grecian road trip for me and my pal Rachel. Located in the South East of the Pelopponese, the large rock that the town feels like it’s carved from is now joined to the mainland by a long causeway just above sea level, with the houses and castle nestled into one side and hidden from view of the mainland. Back in the day this was all part of a clever strategy to hide the townspeople from potential attacks from those pesky mainlanders, but these days it all just adds to the magic of the place and makes you feel like you’ve really discovered a true hidden gem where you seem to step back in time as soon as you enter the stone archway into the tiny cobbled alleyways that lie in secret behind it. Monemvasia has changed hands many times during its extremely long history- from the Spartans to the Turkish to the Venetians and back again, and amazingly it’s actually the only castle in Europe to have been continuously inhabited since it was first built…parts of the area date as far back as to the 6th Century, so basically- it’s really full on old, you guys. After a mildly hair-raising drive up the side of the rock to the castle’s entrance, both me and Rachel were full on enchanted by this beautiful little town; of all the places I have visited in my life, this is definitely one of the most spellbinding.
When we first came up with the idea of heading to Greece for a few weeks, we weren’t altogether exactly sure of where we should head to, and how we should go about heading there. We didn’t even know a lot about the country, aside from that I had a pal who lived in the Pelopponese (an area which I had never actually heard of but definitely wanted to visit), and that someone we worked with had three keys- to a boat, a car, and a house- somewhere in the region of Mykonos. Mykonos somehow magically changed overnight to ‘The three keys are in Lefkada, don’t go to Mykonos!’ Much like Jason’s Argonauts, the mythological Three Keys of Lefkada are still very much mythological, but we did saunter up to the area anyway just on the off chance that the quest for the three keys would be fruitful. Alas. But anyway. Here, for your reading pleasure, are the ins and outs of how we got from A to B, to C and back again.
The first time we sailed into Geirangerfjord, it was the end of April. I awoke pretty darn tootin’ early, threw on what I considered to be warm clothes, and made my way up to the bow of the ship (that’s the front, pals) in order to witness the marvel of the mountains. It truly was marvellous. There was an eerie mist surrounding us- very Pirates of the Caribbean, you know the opening scene with the little girl singing?- with the surrounding mountains just visible beneath, looming up to the sky on either side of us. They were still covered in snow, giving the whole experience a tinge of being in a mildly sinister yet epic black and white film from decades ago, with the ship calmly cutting through the calm dark water below us. Crazy. We passed the Seven Sisters waterfall; seven icy cascades of water plunging down from the top of the snow-capped peak…it was pretty full on AWESOME. Also pretty full on cold, so I needed to retreat and reappear with several more layers. As we rounded a bend in the fjord, the shroud of mist lifted slightly and we could see the tiny village of Geiranger at the dead end full steam ahead. Over the next few months we returned to the village every ten days, seeing it slowly change as the snow almost entirely melted, blossom appeared on the trees, and then the full bloom of Summer, before it started to retreat into Autumn again. So here, in all its glory, is what I have to say (or write,even) about Geiranger. Continue reading
I’ve now spent a grand total of four months of my life living in Germany, and almost a year working with the people of this great nation (not all of them obviously. That’s quite a lot of people to be working with) Don’t get me wrong, a year isn’t that much time but it’s time enough to have made a few observations of this strange place I find myself in. Continue reading