Rain and a cozy hotel room – the decision to stay a day longer in Shkoder was not hard!
Day 64: No rain...and we are off to Montenegro! The first impression is VERY good! Wow! It's hard to believe that Albania and Montenegro are neighboring countries!
Day 65: A rainy night and showers throughout the day. At least the landscape is breathtaking!
Day 66: A sunny day again, but we have problems with finding water and food. We finally manage to get water but we have to stick with our reserves. Broccoli cream soup and crunchy corn leave us hungry! :-(
Day 67: A cold but beautiful day! Montenegro is just....WOW!!!
Express-Sightseeing in the city of Kotor! The bay of Kotor really looks like a Finnish fjord. WOW! We camp at an old fortress way up the hillside. The only flat spot to pitch a tent is an old roadway which the cows use to wander around. This causes a very close encounter with a huge cow. We have to unbuild our rainfly to let it pass. It's a weird feeling to sit in a tent while 600kg on four hooves squeeze themselves through the narrow gap between rock and you...
In the morning we make a small detour to explore another fortress nearby. Later we cross the bay of Kotor with the ferry. In the evening it's raining heavily again.
Day 70: Unfortunately we have to leave Montenegro already...The first impression on Croatia is not so good...The customs officer is convinced to find drugs in Kevin's backpack and so we have to empty our packs and explain the purpose of EVERY thing...Later we have 2 more police controls. We definitely try to avoid them in the future...wild camping is illegal in Croatia and we don't want to have troubles...
Walking is easy and we make it to a monastery ruin where can camp – the view from up there is amazing!
Day 72: Express sightseeing with backpacks in Dubrovnik! This is an amazing town. The road north from Dubrovnik is shitty to walk on – no space for pedestrians, tons of traffic....and Croatian infrastructure sucks: no public water, very few supermarkets, almost no gas stations...
Day 73: We didn´t find a supermarket the day before, so we have to start without breakfast and walk about 20km to the next store...:-( The positive thing of the day: We saw dolphins in the Adriatic Sea!
We decide to walk a little detour along a peninsula. By doing this we avoid crossing the border to Bosnia and we have way less traffic than on the main route. Ston has a beautiful fortress and we find a pretty spot to camp in an olive grove.
Not every gas station in Croatia has or sells Gas. This is the first gas station since Dubrovnik and for some weird reason it doesn't sell us fuel. Wild camping in Croatia is not allowed so making a fire is not a good idea and we HAVE to rely on our gasoline stove. We really hope to get gas soon!
Icy wind! BRRRRRRRR! Free camping on a closed camp ground in Trpanj
Golden Jackals are howling the whole night in the hills around us! With the ferry we travel back to the mainland. The coastal road is shitty to walk on and camp spots are hard to find. We camp in an olive grove right across the street from a camp ground.
Today's goal: To wash ourselves in the sea – Accomplished! The water was a bit chilly though (12 degrees Celsius)
On such a beautiful day you have to make a break! We need time anyways to repair stuff, clean the stove, wash our clothes and bathe in the sun (in February)
If you don't find water (what happens quite frequently in Croatia) you have to buy it...It takes quite a long time to find a camp site (which means carrying the water quite a while) but then we can enjoy the last sun rays while sitting on a big rock 300m above sea level overlooking the sea and the whole bay!
Today we have the craziest fog we have ever seen – so tense that you don't see what's beneath it, but so close to the surface of the sea that the mast of a sailing ship peaks out. The sun is burning and we walk more into the inland – we want to walk AROUND the bay of Split (too many cities, too much traffic,...)
In the higher altitudes of the interior it gets freezing cold. Leaving the warm sleeping bags at -4 degrees Celsius is not appealing at all. At least during day it warms up and there is almost no traffic what makes hiking very pleasant.
And we thought yesterday's morning was cold...Today it's -7,7 degrees!!! BRRRRR! In addition Kevin feels dizzy and nauseous what makes walking very uncomfortable.
Kevin is still not completely well. The weather is good and walking is easier than yesterday. In the evening we have clouds what keeps night temperatures comfortable.
NEVER EVER try to do your laundry in a creek when nightly temperatures are below freezing...the water then has temperatures around 0 degrees, what surely stimulates circulation in the hands but it hurts so badly! Your socks will get wet but not clean! In a little village we get an invitation for coffee and rake (it was 9.30am) and a hot shower – NEVER decline an invitation like this. The shower was amazing!
The howling jackals once more kept us awake. Brunch and a beer boost our motivation to walk and the Krka River surprises us with an amazing landscape.
The village of Medvida, which appears on our map as a small town turns out to be a ghost town – bombed houses, collapsed roofs, abandoned fields and grazing lands... Where shall we get water here? Many kilometers after our planned rest we find a house where we can ask people for water...
SPRING!!!! We see 3 snakes that warm their stiff bodies and the first violets! In this area of Croatia finding a spot to pitch our tent is particularly difficult – stones, meager landscape without plants and to make it even more difficult...signs with „Danger Mines“ everywhere!!! Great! An old couple of sheep herders gives us water and a glass of wine and after a long search we find a spot for our tent. In a land that consists of 95% of sharp-edged stones we find an old grazing ground that is walled with stones – our own little fortress!
What a nice surprise! - We thought that it would be 250km to Rijeka but it is only 170km! After washing our dirty clothes in the sea it starts raining (of course!) and it won't stop....Our tent is really waterproof (still!) but you just don't sleep as relaxed if the rain is tormenting the outer skin of your house.....
Walking is hard today and the motivation is poor....we hoped on a shorter day but again we spend hours on looking for a suitable camp site....After a long 28km walk we crawl into our sleeping bags – without water and food. We just couldn't find any. Some days are like jinxed!
The first 12km we really hurry up – without supper the day before and without breakfast this is quite strenuous...In Karlobag we raid the first supermarket we can find and have a hearty supper. We also find an internet cafe (what is not so easy to be found in Croatia). Our map has run out and we don't manage to get a new one....Well we will have to play it by ear again....
The night was so stormy that we couldn't really sleep. We are proud of our little tent – it made a great job! The whole day we have to fight the wind. The gusts are unpredictable and almost blow us from the street or into the oncoming traffic. After a hard 30km-day we crawl in our sleeping bags...completely exhausted. We hope our camp is better protected from the wind then yesterday.
Today we have to speed up to reach the next village before noon. It's Sunday and the shops are only open until 12 o'clock. We stock up on food, chocolate milk and a bottle of beer. With so much of motivation in the pack walking is much lighter (even if it is heavier weight wise) We see an Austrian license plate with LL – Linz County! We come closer and closer to home! While searching for a place to camp, Kevin bumps his head badly – we are lucky that it is no laceration!
Today it is f***ing cold with slight snowfall in the morning – in addition we have strong, gusty winds. Only in the afternoon it gets slightly warmer and we can warm up a little bit on a sunny bench. While camping in the evening we get a surprising visit from a hunter. But he doesn't care too much – Ouf! That was close!
The wind decreased but the walking conditions for pedestrians along the road get unbearingly difficult. In the bay right before Kraljevica there is absolutely NO space to walk, the traffic is fast and whenever a truck comes we have to bend our backs over the guard rail so that we don't get crushed.
At -3 degrees in the morning we pack our stuff and head back to the dangerous road. Kevin discovers his passion to collect the little balls of ball bearings that you find a lot of in Croatian ditches (he just doesn't know what to use them for yet) In Rijeka we trekked through the whole city and it never seemed to end. Many kilometers after the city of Rijeka we finally find a spot to pitch our tent. For dinner we have chicken breasts in herb-cream. To debone a chicken at temperatures below freezing is NOT fun!!!
Today we (finally) leave Croatia! Before we reach the border we annihilate (to avoid customs) about 1,8l of beer that we bought the day before. To cross a border well oiled is really funny ;-) This time they don't search us and Slovenia greets us with friendly people, Austrian supermarket chains (Spar, Hofer, dm,...) and a landscape like home....We almost feel like in Austria!
-6,5 degrees and an icy wind throughout the day! At least the sun is shining! The forest soil is covered with snowdrops what fills Marita with delight!
As if it wouldn't be cold enough...we also have to cross a ridge and on the other side there are tons of snow. We are lucky to find a place for our tent that is more or less free of snow. For dinner we have a pork-mishap in Mediterranean vanilla cream sauce (if you don't know Slovenian it can happen that you buy cream where sugar is already added...)
Again -6,5 degrees....leaving the warm sleeping bag is not at all appealing! Today we want to make it almost to Ljubljana...But as we need to wash our clothes urgently and as the weather is really bad we decide to splurge and get a hotel in Ljubljana. After some search we find a (quite pricy, but luxurious) room with HOT SHOWER, central HEATING, Internet and kitchen – WOW!
We have to wash (almost all of) our clothes and so we decide to make a day of break in Ljubljana. We couldn't do any sightseeing because it was way too cold for the little bit of clothing we had left. We spent the day repairing Kevin's shoes, cleaning pots and water filter and to glue Marita's glasses (NEVER put your glasses in the dry leaves while cooking – to step on them is almost preassigned). In the evening we got our laundry back. The result: everything smells a little bit like cheesy trekking socks and our woolen socks for the evenings are about size 22!
In Ljubljana we arranged with Marita's parents to meet in Maribor the following weekend. This means we have to speed up to make it! The cold makes it a bit easier because it is just too cold to make longer breaks. After a successful day with 35km the pasta in Ćevapčići-cream-tomato-carrot sauce is especially delicious.
It is cold and walking along the road is boring. In the evening the snowfall gets more and the only water we find comes from a little creek. We will have to filter it and finding a camp site is also tough today. Again 36km – Marita is completely exhausted.
In the morning we have a few centimeters of snow – camping is not fun in this kind of weather! While walking the trucks and cars splash the mud all over us. We take the first opportunity to change to al smaller road and from then on it is much better. The snowing stops eventually and a nice family invites us for tea. In the evening we have to dig out a space to pitch our tent...
Finally it gets a bit warmer. The sun thaws the snow away and we speed up to reach Maribor in time. Marita is already quite wasted but the joy to see her parents soon keeps her going.
We walked way to far the day before. That's why we have a short day to finally reach Maribor. We make a break at a Hofer supermarket to have a second breakfast and a beer, stop at a Baumax to do some necessary shopping and reach the hotel at 1pm. There we shower, do our laundry and wait for Ilse and Pepi. In the evening we have an amazing dinner with beer and some nice talks in the evening....and before we even notice it is 1am!
The buffet breakfast in the hotel is amazing. We dig in and enjoy the luxury. We are totally not used to that! Together we explore Maribor, Ilse gives us a treatment of holistic pulsing (WOW!) for our tired feet and we talk about the hiking we want to do together in Austria in a few days from now. In the evening we enjoy another amazing meal. Life can be GREAT!!!!
After another big buffet breakfast we say goodbye to Marita's parents. They paid us another day at the hotel and so we enjoy this amazing day of rest. We buy yummy food and spend a relaxed day watching TV...
We ate so much the day before that we are not hungry at all for breakfast – we dig in anyways. Then we are off towards AUSTRIA! The bike ferry over the Mur River is not operating yet and so we have to walk a few more kilometers in Slovenia before crossing over to Austria....and finally, after a long day, we make it. IN AUSTRIA – the first time in over 4 years!
Lowest temperature in the morning: -9,7 degrees Celsius. We are so glad that Marita's parents brought another pair of down sleeping bags from home! Austria is very „hikable“ - small paths, walkways, bike routes,.... Today we get invited for coffee and in the evening for a „Jause“. Austrians are AMAZING!
The find of the day: a bottle of sparkling wine in the ditch – unopened. A champagne brunch is quite fancy but after a whole bottle....you feel so overacidified that walking gets hard. We won't do that again!
We can charge our cell phone in Fürstenfeld at a Hartlauer store (yes, we have a cell phone again. For the first time in over 4 years. We need it to coordinate our arrival with our families) and buy a hiking map. The weather is amazing and many people are in their gardens. That's why we fritter away a lot of time while talking to them. We reach our day's goal right after dark.
In Großpetersdorf we get an invitation for coffee at the Josefshof....soon the coffee became a dinner and in the end a nights stay on the couch. Quickly the news of the two crazy hikers spread in the village and everybody came to visit. Maybe it was also because they made a lot of Pizza.... We talked the whole night and went to bed at 6.45am...
After only 3 hours of sleep we couldn't hike on and so we passed the day putting up a fence, chop some wood and chat with all the nice people from the Josefshof.
At 10am we picked up Marita's parents in Oberwart – they will hike with us the next 10 days to come.... To leave at noon would have been too late and so we stayed yet another day with our new friends. Ilse and Pepi where mentally prepared for hiking and so they needed exercise. After a while a whole tree that was lying behind the house has been chopped up and was piled up along a wall.
After a heartily goodbye we start cross-country and on small forest tracks to Rechnitz. We have the luxury of accommodation – after the alternative and relaxed Josefshof... the evangelic youth hostel feels a bit stiff...
Today we climb the highest mountain....of the Burgenland! - the Geschriebenstein (884m) It is raining and cold....to warm up we make coffee on the Austrian-Hungarian boundary stone. After a steep descend we finally reach Lockenhaus where we reside in a luxury apartment (the spare beds where quite uncomfortable)
It's still raining and the whole day we walk through mud, mud and even more mud!!! The night we spend in a small pension with male cats marking their territory, air that is full of frying fat stench and furniture from the 50ies.
A whole day of rainy weather is not bad at all when your parents invite you to a luxurious accommodation with HOT SHOWER!
Today we cross into Hungary to get to Mörbisch. In a little village we get an invitation from a weird guy for wine and fresh milk. After going to a restaurant we have a few spare Forints. We spend it on Bananas and Hungarian chocolate. At a bike border crossing we head back into Austria and Kevin is reminiscing about his times in the army when he was stationed in the Burgenland – the old border post is still standing...
The wind is hard on us. We hurry up to get out of it. In the early afternoon we reach our destination. Kevin and Pepi indulge in the beer – good that the accommodation is in the same building. While Kevin and Pepi have profound discussions, Ilse and Marita spend a cozy evening watching TV...
After a big hangover breakfast for Pepi and Kevin we head up the Leithagebirge. The crossing of a mountain range and a total of 27km in one day – we are proud of Mama and Papa!
On a wing and prayer we head towards Schwechat. There we get a map of the metropolitan area of Vienna. Now we can dare heading to our capital city. There we meet with Camilla, Marita's sister. She is studying in Vienna and we can stay at her apartment. We celebrate the reunion with good food, wine and snacks.
Marita's parents join us for a few more kilometers (without backpacks). In Langenzersdorf we say good bye – the last 250km along the Danube we walk alone. From now on we will camp again....not too hard if the weather is fine and the meadow is blooming with snowdrops and bear's garlic.
The further we walk from Vienna, the less „traffic“ there is on the „Donauradweg“ - the bicycle path that runs along the Danube. In Tulln we buy food and cook a yummy bear's garlic soup in the meadows. We see the first mosquito this year! The immediate elimination brings an estimated 1 000 000 000 offspring less! In Langenschönbichl we get an invitation for beer and talk way too long....we have to find a camp site in the dark...
Today we pass the atomic power plant of Zwentendorf. It was never brought on line and today it houses a primary school and a solar power plant. It is also used as a spare parts inventory for German atomic power plants and as a training center for people that work in operating plants
Spring is here – finally! We see the first snakes – a grass snake and a dice snake – and the almond trees are in bloom (I didn't even know that they grow that far north!) Around Dürnstein there are steep rock faces which makes finding a space for our tent very difficult. We finally find a small space near a small back water of the Danube. We cook dinner on the rocks near the river and eat with view on Dürnstein – very romantic!
In Willendorf we visited the find spot of the Venus of Willendorf – one of the most important archaeological discoveries of Stone Age Art. In the evening it starts raining, the soil is muddy and we have to cook in the tent. Eventually it stops raining and we can spend a relaxed night. This night is also the change from winter time to daylight saving time – after sooooo much winter in the last weeks and months...this is a clear messenger for the warmer season....FINALLY!
There is incredible morning fog today. Walking is relaxed and uneventful. In the evening we have Chili con Carne and Gulasch. We are really not far from home. In the evening we phone Maureen, Kevin's sister to send out the e-mails to friends and family with the exact date of our arrival in Linz...
Great weather, a meat loaf breakfast and a quiet hiking trail...What more can you ask for? Finding a spot to camp is tough again. We climb up the Matrassteig and camp with the greatest view over the Strudengau ever!
A relaxed day with plenty of breaks – we are watching the cargo boats lining up at the water gate, doing our laundry in the Danube and enjoy the sunny spring day. We want to meet with Pepi in Wallsee but his meeting takes quite a long time and we can only meet at 5pm....we have a great dinner in a restaurant where we can also charge our call phone (to be available in the last days before our final arrival)
Short before Mauthausen we meet Stefan a pilgrim who was walking the Austrian part of the Camino de Santiago – from Vienna to Vorarlberg. Together we share a beer in the parking lot of Hofer market to have a chat. Again it takes a while for us to find a suitable camp site and we have to walk way over our planned destination.
In the night it started to rain and it doesn't really stop during the whole day. We are drenched – what a great homecoming! Soon the smoking chimneys of the Voest appear...not particularly the prettiest side of Linz. In Plesching we had lunch at a restaurant. The camp ground in Plesching was not open yet so we camped in the meadow – right at the gates of Linz!
Just hours to our final arrival. We dilly-dally towards the Donaulände, enjoy the great weather and are nervous like little school kids excited to see how it will be to see family and friends again after almost 4 ½ years. At 9.30am we arrive at the Lentos – what a great spectacle with many loving people! After 1575 days on the road.....finally back home!!!!!
One day of break in Durres was not enough - hurting legs and a lack of motivation to walk on made us prolong our stay for a day more. We spend the day with excessive relaxing, stretching our muscles and watching TV...
Ahead of us is a long, long day...34km along a heavily trafficked road...But in Albania we practically depend on Hotels, so we have to push it sometimes...After such a long day our tired legs really enjoy a good night's sleep!
A quiet day along a smaller road - We make a little detour but it's still much better than walking along the big road.
This is one of the days where we see that Albania is a very different world far, far away from the well-ordered Europe. First we cross a river that has a milky white colour and smells heavily of sulfur (environmental restrictions for the industry seem not to exist). Later in Lezhe we saw a 17 year-old driving a brand new big Mercedes while smoking one of the biggest joints we've ever seen...
Again a quiet, nice, sunny day along small roads and an invitation for coffee at a small shop... In the evening we indulge in burgers and fries - what a great day!
Another day along a big road where nothing really happens...
A short day to Shkoder, the biggest city in the north of Albania. Supposedly it's the most beautiful city in all of Albania...and we think this is right - beautiful churches and mosques, nice cafes, an old fortress and even a pedestrian area!!!
We find a nice hotel that even has a BATH TUB!!! - After improvising a plug (out of a bottle cap and a meter of tape) we enjoy the hot water surrounding our body from ALL sides - What a pleasure for our tired legs!
Again a daz of break that we use for sightseeing, internet research and Co. Tomorrow we are heading to Montenegro. We are really excited what awaits us there....
Finally on a small road again....and within the most beautiful landscape! We make good distance because the longer we hike that day the lower we can sleep....The lower we sleep, the warmer is the night!!!
The road becomes a little, rough trail - this lack in infrastructure is our gain! Just us and the mountains! Great!
When it is time to find a camp site we are in the middle of a steep canyon which after a few kilometers opens up....to make way for an army camp...and then the road starts climbing up the hill again which is completely against our plan to sleep as low as possible. When we are finally out of sight of the army camp....we come to a village! When we finally find a spot to put our tent it is dark and we have covered a daily distance of 32,5km!
When we bake bread for breakfast on the banks of a small river we meet a nice old lady. After telling her our story (with hands and feet) she offers us her donkey to take our load for a while. After we refuse she brings us a big bag filled with home made bread, cheese and olives! Wow!
In the afternoon we reach Gramsh, where we find a great and cheap Hotel where we enjoy the luxury of TV, heating and a hot shower!
Such a great hotel room we had to enjoy one more day! And our legs can need the break anyway. We also finally manage to do Kevins Dreads and shave his head again.
Great weather and amazing landscape - that's when hiking is really fun! In the afternoon we come back to civilization again and have to cope with albanian out-of-control-driving (with 150km/h through a village on a bumpy road can't be safe and controlled!) After a long day we make it to Cerrik where we sleep in a hotel we usually wouldn't even bother to ask for a price. But Albania is really affordable. Besides that the camping situation in Albania is somewhere between shitty and impossible...
On some days (especially those along a big heavily trafficked road) there is absolutely nothing of interest happening. Also our dinner that day is very meager - Soup was the only thing we could order (or rather the waiter could manage to explain us). It was really good but not nearly enough for two hungry trekkers. So aditionally we had to dine on part of our breakfast that we bought for the next day...
...and the street gets bigger and heavier trafficked yet...and then after a long day we can't find a hotel in the city we hoped to find one...We finally find one a few km outside of town and cook some pasta in our hotel room - After a day like this we are not keen on another soup experience like the evening before!
In light rain we head for Durres, the second biggest city of Albania. And after a long day along densely populated and heavily trafficked roads we finally make it to the city center. After the stresses and strains of the last days we enjoy a pizza and some beers in the evening!
Finally a day of break where our tired legs can get a rest! The schedule for today: relax, eat good food, do some sightseeing and spend an incredible long time in an internet cafe...and in the evening we will treat ourselves on pizza and beer again!
It's f**** cold!....and an icy wind maked hiking really unpleasant! In Arnissa we hope to find shoe glue or new shoes for Marita because her boots start to fall apart. But everything is closed and the only open supermarket closes right after our visit... We find a nice grassy area near the lake where we can camp and make a fire - if it just wouldn't be so cold!!!Day 41:
In the morning our tent is frozen solid and we have to defrost it over the fire to be able to pack it... and we are headed to higher elevations still. From Kelli, which is at about 1000m it finally goes downhill again! The cold doesn't decrease though... We camp near Vevi at about 700m
SOOOOO COLD it has never been before on the whole hike -in the morning the tent was frozen still, the sleeping bag covered with a layer of ice and even the water in our pot that water was almost frozen solid. While we are packing the greek border patrol pays us a visit. After making sure we are not illegal immigrants from Albania they even speak english and wish us all the best and just say: "You are CRAZY to camp in this weather!"
We decide that they are right and hitch a ride to Florina which is 20km away to find a hotel and make plans on how to cross the mountains. Between us and Albania there is a pass with 1550m...
We hitch a ride with Toni and Natasha who offer us to celebrate the New Year with them in their village what we of course embrace! After buying new shoes for Marita in Florina (we even find a pair with goretex and vibram sole!) we go to Fanos with Toni and Natasha. We celebrate the old year with a hot shower, freshly washed laundry, coffee and good food. At 10.30pm we are sound asleep - we completely overslept the new year....
After a hearty breakfast we head (with the car) up a mountain where we have a nice little walk and a coffee. It's amazing how fast a car is in comparison with walking....
In the afternoon we make a big birthday BBQ for Kevin in the garden - yummy meat and greek rezina!!!
In the evening Toni and Natasha decide spontaneously to visit her family in Albania an doffer us to take us over the border (and the high pass) We agree, not without the promise to ourselves to come back and make those missing 80km from Florina to the border on foot one day.
We get up early and pack our stuff. A few hours later we are in Albania. Our friends help us to find a hotel, invite us for lunch and then give us a hearty goodbye with tears in the eyes of Natasha that just doesn't want to let her new "daughter" go!
Thank you for everything Toni and Natasha!!!!
Albania is really a completely different world! Balkan pure!
We walk the 27km from Bilisht to Korce almost without a break, because it is just too cold! In Korce we take a hotel - without heating but cheap and still warmer than outside!
We enjoy a cozy evening, wrapped in sleeping bags with typical albanian food (bread, cheese, sausages and beer) and watched Austrian!?! TV - a crazy feeling, indeed!
We actually wanted to continue our hike to get to lower regions, but with a cold camping night at 800m in sight we decide to make a day of break in the hotel - watching TV, going for a walk, surf in the internet and enjoy civlilisation....The next days we will be far away from all that....
In Asprovalta we connect to the world again and buy sausages, apples, wine and wet wipes at Lidl. In the evening we wet-wipe ourselves (more body hygiene is not possible at those cold temperatures) and enjoy an amazing dinner and drink greek wine for better weather.
It was a good decision to choose the northern shore of the Volvi Lake...Little traffic, great landscape and friendly people that stop to give us 3kg of fresh oranges. We camp at the lake where we have our first "shower" since Alexandroupoli!
Again one of those days where making good distance is easy...and out of necessity we even make a few more because the supermarket of the village we wanted to buy dinner at is closed....and also in the next village everything, except the butcher is closed. He has a pity on us and shares his dinner with us. Greek people are amazing!
There are more crazy guys that hike long distances. Short before Langkadas we meet a british guy:
He: "Hello, where are you two headed?"
He: "Oh, that's where i just come from!"
Us: "Cool! And where are you going?"
Us: "That's where we just come from!!!"
To walk through agricultural areas is no fun at all - it's boring and there are no places to camp at. After a break Marita realizes that she has lost her cap. Kevin RUNS back to get it! After 20km of hiking he runs 6km extra! That's REAL LOVE!
In Prochoma a dog makes friends with us (or the fresh bread we have in a bag on the backpack) and joins us for a few kilometers. At a picknick place near the Axios river he finds a new pack.
We camp at a pretty grassy patch on the shores of the river
Christmas! Early in the morning we head to Koufalia and buy yummy food for the Christmas days. Then we head back to the river where we celebrate christmas eve with campfire and good greek wine. A hunter gives us a freshly killed snipe - now we even have our mini-christmas-turkey! ;-)
Freshly washed laundry, freshly washed Rucksacknomaden, sun is shining....a perfect christmas day at the river!!!
Fruit cocktail and Coke for breakfast...and then we hit the road. We are lucky and find a lot of fresh vegetarian roadkill: 1 onion, 1 apple, 1 orange and 2 tangerines - vitamins for free!
In the afternoon it starts to rain - the first time during daytime on our hike so far!...and then we canno't find a proper campsite either...Before it gets dark we crash on a patch of grass in an area that could be straight out of a psycho thriller - Well, it can't be idyllic all the time...
Again all the shops are closed in the small villages - so we cook what we have in store in the backpack - instant mashed potatoes. Kevin finds a few apples, that someone dumped in the roadside ditch...
The apples where not particularly yummy...so we football them! An apple flies in thousand pieces, when you hit them hard with a trekking boot. *hehe*
Even though we wanted to make short day....we make our 20+km....yet once again....
The weather forecast said rain...but the north wind made snow out of it! 15cm of it! So we had to spend a whole day in the tent waiting for better weather. Only in the evening the snowfall stopped and we could light a campfire to warm our frozen fingers a bit.
As there is no end of the cold in sight, we bought new warm blankets - NOW THE COLD CAN COME!!!!
Camping next to a small chapell with view over the whole valley! Nice! :-)
The snow has melted - finally! Even a few pomegranates survived the frost! Free vitamins and a big campfire in the evening!
Again 5-10cm of this white shit! And again a unwanted restday in the tent! But walking in the dirty wet snow beside the road is worse still...
The "coldest day of the year"! - and an icy north wind that chills you to the bone! Only at 3pm it finally stopped and the sun came out a bit - that's not how you imagine hiking and camping in Greece!
Camping at the beach with a nice bonfire! - Oh...would it only be 20 degrees warmer....
Sunshine and better weather in sight - Yippie!!!! Only 87km to go to Thessaloniki (which we will avoid because hiking is more fun in small villages than it is in big cities)
When the weather is great and you are hiking through the greek hills - olive trees, cristal blue sea, green pastures.... you really feel like in the middle of some tacky feta-cheese-advertisement!
In this amazing scenery you don't think that someone will greet you with a bevarian accent....well some greek olive farmers are from Bavaria :-)
The night we spent in a abandoned shepherd's hut...with the tent under the roof and a nice evening in front of the open fire.....
St. Nikolaus brought us a big bag of almonds - we just had to pick and open them first - Yummy! All in all a great day! - we hitched a ride over a ford on the bucket of a catarpillar and got two hands full of candy that tasted like my granny's foot cream from an old couple....
We hike always west along tiny roads and even find shortcuts via traktor tracks. we really make good distance. In the afternoon Kevin's leg starts to hurt so badly, that he needs Voltaren cream. But in front of a fire and with spagetti Carbonara life is good again!
4 years on the road!! We didn't even plan to celebrate too big but ended up with a big party! In the tiny village we got invited into the tavern and spent the evening drinking beer, listening to STS on full volume, eating amazing greek food, drinking more beer and having a great time with our new friends in Nea Amisos! The night we spent in a little hut with fridge, tv and heating! Thank you soooo much for everything!
After a hot coffe in the tavern we hiked on...and an hour later, we sat in a garden sipping hot coffe once again. We even got 2 kg of kiwis for the way. Greek people are amazing!
cold, colder, freeeeeeezing cold! We found frozen puddles at 3pm! Greece is supposed to be much warmer!
it's still way too cold. Breaking up camp in the morning is painfull, but has to be done quickly - hiking is the only thing that keeps us warm!
We bought a new map today (the old one we hiked through already). Now we head out in the cold again - they say it'll get colder still!
What a great experience to buy groceries in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere...when everybody looks at you as if you where an alien!
Outside of the village we where welcomed much warmer with tea and snacks. We even could have slept there, but we preferred to hike a few more kilometers. This was a mistake because when it started raining we had to make camp near a burnt down gas station.
After a rainy night the sun was shining again - a perfect day to wash your dirty socks sand undies and hang them on your backpack to dry. In the evening we had our first campfire!
Wind from the side makes walking so much harder. At one point we had to grab the guard railing not to be blown in the oncoming traffic....After Malkara we couldn't find a suitable camping spot sao we had to push it another 6km! The nice little forest just uphill a shepard's home was a gift from heaven!
A day starts great when people are greeting you from there cars! After an invitation for coffee in a village pub and hot soup and tea at a gas station we could not stop praising Turkish people and their hospitality!
The wind tortured us again on the poor, meagre high plateau before the border. We couldn't find any suitable camp site before the border so we had to push it again. In the border area we where not allowed to cross on foot, so we hitched a ride with a turkish trucker that offered us to take us all tehe way to Albania (to safe us a piece of the way home). Weltcome to the E.U.!
On the greek side of the border we camped near an old tank emplacement with view on the border!
Without any map of greece we hiked towards Alexandroupolis. The traffic in greece is much faster, the emergency lane much narrower and the people a lot less friendly. - What a great start!
A long day along a heavily trafficked road - but we made it to Alexandroupolis! And we splurge on the luxury of a camp ground!
Chill, relax, do laundry, buy maps and organise our further trip.....
"Are we there yet? - No! Is ıt far stıll? - Yes!"
We started our long walk home wıth sunshıne, parks along the coast, an ınvıtatıon for dınner and a camp space ın a prıvat garden. We really know why we are travellıng agaın! Beıng on the road agaın feels so good!
After a few Cuba Lıbres to many the evenıng before we started a lıttle bıt late....but well, we are not ın a hurry...
Turkısh polıce controls are sooo cool: "Welcome to Turkey! Where are you from? Where do you go? Waıt, I have somethıng for you..."...and moments later we sat ın the grass sıppıng juıce gıfted by the turkısh polıce ;-)
We really pushed ıt to the lımıt and made ıt to a campground ın Sılıvrı. On the way there we met a scottısh bıker (yes, there are more crazy travellers outdoors thıs tıme of year) He ıs goıng from Oslo to Istanbul, so he was almost done...and we are just begınnıng....
We really earned thıs day of break - doıng nothıng, enjoyıng the sun and doıng laundry
After we got rıd of the lımpıng dog that got our food scraps the day before we made good dıstancesç The bıg cıty ıs fınally behınd us and the hıghway starts gettıng less crowded...
We fınally both found flexıble metal poles ın the dıdge for our self made flags - now we are a real sıght on the hıghway!
Back to "cıvılısatıon" (wıth Internet). So, ın Tekirdağ we shortly connect qwıth the world agaın, eat a döner and then we are off agaın. Always towards the greek border!
For everyone who thought we went back home or something like that...nope, we just forgot our blog. We're both fine and still on the road!
For the last 3 months we were touring around Turkey with Kevin's parents in their VW camper van. Here is the short version for the english speakers (the longer german version will appear on our mainblog in a few hours):
We met Kevin's parents about 3 months ago in Istanbul. We flew in from Egypt and they drove their camping van down to Turkey. Helga and Otto welcomed us at the airport and after a few days at a campground near Istanbul we started our trip around Turkey.
First we went along the coast of the Black Sea before we turned south to the amazing rock formations of Cappadocia. After exploring this Outdoor Wonderland for a few days we tried to climb the volcano Erciyes Dagi (3916m), but we had to turn around before we reached the summit because of strong gusts of wind at the crater rim. The next mountain we tried was a lot easier: for Nemrud Dagi you don't even need hiking boots... you can drive almost all the way to the summit to see the otherworldy rock sculptures there.
After the mountains we went to Sanliurfa, the city where the prophet Abraham was born. From there we drove to the Mediterranean Coast and had a good time there. We went from village to village and enjoyed the sun and the sea. Like that we made it all the way back to Istanbul.
At the moment we are at a camp ground near Istanbul. We are enjoying the last days with Kevin's parents and are preparing everything for the next part of our trip. In about a week we'll start the final leg of our trip! More about it in a few days...
Anyway, here is the summary of the last weeks:
On 12th of July we took a flight from Delhi to Cairo, where we met up with Kevin's sister Maureen. It was the first time in over 3 1/2 years that we met somebody from Kevin's family!!!
Together with Maureen we explored Cairo, the egyptian museum and visited the pyramids. After that we traveled on to Luxor where we met a lot of old friends and had the chance to introduce Maureen to the "real" Egypt. We saw a lot of old stones, sailed in a felucca on the nile and hiked in the desert. Our friend Ali invited us to stay at his home in a small village north of Luxor. There we strolled through the sugarcane fields, ate fresh dates right from the palm tree and enjoyed a real egyptian dinner in the evening.
From Luxor we went to the small village of Dahab on the Sinai peninsula. Here we enjoyed our last days with Maureen: we swam and snorkeled in the red sea, smoked shisha, drank tea and spent a lot of time in the Bedouin style cafes. Life can be soooooooooo good!!!
And because life is sooooooo good here, we are still here!
Maureen already took her turn and left Dahab on the 2nd of August... When we will be able to do the same...? No idea!!!! We are trying, but so far the urge to stay is still stronger than the urge to leave... We should have known it - Dahab is famous for holding travelers for weeks or even months...
We met up with Shalab (an Indian trekker we met in Nepal) and joined him on a 5 day trek. It was really nice to get out into nature again... That's something we really missed in India! Thanks Shalabh!
Kevin caught a cold after the trek and blew his nose so strong that he damaged something in his inner ear (the equilibrium organ doesn't like high pressure!!). The result was constant motion sickness... He couldn't walk in a straight line and felt the whole day as if he had just gotten off a 12 hour mountain bus ride...
So we had to leave Dharamsala earlier and bring Kevin down to Delhi to a hospital.
The bus ride was hell, but at least the news from the doc in Delhi were good - no infection, just mechanical damage that will heal on it's own. The motion sickness feeling got already better and in a few weeks Kevin should be completely recovered.
We spent the last few days in Delhi and waited for our flight to Cairo...
Well anyways....Here everything that happened in the last weeks in short:
From Hampi we went to the ashram of Sai Baba (a weird experience) and then on to the indian east coast. There we relaxed a few days in Puducherry and Mammalapuram and went then straight up to the Taj Mahal (2000km by train).
Because we still haven't had enough of the Indian summer heat we went to the desert state of Rajastan where we visited the fort of Jodhpur and enjoyed the desert outpost feeling in Jaisalmer. After being trapped in the desert for almost a week due to floods (yes, we know that sounds weird...) we went on to Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple of the Sikhs.
Since yesterday we are in Dharamsala/Mc Leod Ganj where the Tibetian Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama reside. Here we enjoy the cooler climate and the existence of landscape and the colour green.
As we have quite enough of Indian chaos, dirt and crowds we will relax here for the next days/weeks....maybe we also do some trekking but we don't know for sure yet. We'll play it by ear!
But now we can relax a bit and enjoy the nice sea breeze!
We will definitely stay here for a week or so!
Have fun clicking through!
Tomorrow we will make our way to Goa - Beach, sun and especially slightly COOLER temperatures...
Tomorrow we are heading for the border. So the next news (and the new pics from the Everest Trek) will already be from the chaotic subcontinent...
All in all a great hike and an amazing experience!!!!
We already uploaded the new pictures and maps. Have fun scrolling through!!!!
We arrived in Pokhara today in the morning and we'll stay here now for a few days... Our weary muscles need some rest....
Here the short version of the last weeks: After visiting the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia we returned to Bangkok. There we organized everything for our onward trip to Nepal.
Since about a week we are in Kathmandu now - loud, chaotic, stinky, dirty, frequent power cuts, and freezing cold....But we LOVE it!!!! - Holy cows, Sadhus, high mountains, the end of the Hippie trail, friendly locals and more mountains...
In 2 days we are going to travel to Pokhara where we will prepare everything for our first trek in the Himalaya. 21 days of trekking the Annapurna Circuit - far away from the stress and chaos of civilisation...Oh! How are we looking forward to that!!!!
In exchange for a little work we could stay in a to-be jungle campground. But because our Lao visa was about to expire we had to go back to civilisation after a week in the woods.
After a day in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, we took the cruelling 26 hour bus to Hanoi/Vietnam.
Here reigns chaos!!! - and after the quiet Lao people we really have to get used to the loud Vietnamese
Because of bad weather we had to head back after 4 days (through mud and leeches).
Since yesterday we are in Luang Prabang, the tourism-capital of Laos - We are back in civilization and want nothing more than go back to the wild...
Yesterday we have been to the hospital and even the doctors didn´t know what the problem was...Well, at least we have painkillers now. So we can go on the 15 hour train trip to Chiang Mai tonight. Hopefully Marita will get better soon...otherwise we will have to challenge the doctors in Chiang Mai...
But even if it was really hard - we learned a lot and it was an experience for life!
Originally we wanted to travel south after the retreat but it got a little bit too wet here. So we will flee from the coming monsoon to the dry north. Today we take the night train to bangkok where we will stay for a day or two and then...we will see...
Here we enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, sun and sea at our little bungalow right at the beach. Let's see when (or if) we will move on...
Right now we are getting ready for our house- and dogsitting, start planing our onward trip to Asia and....YES we will also actualize our blog (we know it's due since a long time)
So definitely we will not get bored...
From one beautiful lake to the other - that´s the way to enjoy the Canadian summer...
After a day in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park we headed back to Canada again. Yesterday we arrived in Whitehorse where we will relax for a few days. Then we head to Carcross...
Thanks for everything, Flo and Irina!!!!
Our next stop will be Healy/AK where we will look for more information on the Stampede Trail. If everything turns out as we planned, we will be heading out "into the wild" tomorrow...
Yesterday we arrived in Fairbanks and we met up with Flo ( QT). Right away we joined the 10km midnight-sun-run. Today there will be music and party all day and day (night) long...
Here we enjoy the "good ol´times"-feeling of this gold rush town. Tomorrow we are heading off to Alaska.
Right now we are in Williams Lake and we will continue to north of Prince George today - The road is calling....
Then the time for the big family reunion came: For the first time in almost 2 1/2 years we met Maritas parents again!! Really overwhelming and tearful...
After a relaxed week in Calgary we started our trip to Vancouver. Together we travelled over the Rockies and enjoyed the wilderness and the wildlife.
In Vancouver we met up with Stu and Sharon and went together to Saltspring Island and after that the four of us continued to Vancouver Island. We had a really amazing time together!
The 3 1/2 weeks with Maritas parents went by way to fast and so we had to say goodbye again on Sunday... Another tearful expierience... :-(
We are now still in Vancouver, preparing our big road trip up to the Yukon and to Alaska... We should be ready to start it end of this week...
Right now we are in Bend/Oregon at Taylors Place - BIIIIGGGG Quetzaltrekkers Reunion!!!!!
Tomorrow we will contiue to our final piece of road up to Calgary/Canada. There we will meet Maritas parents - for the first time in 2 1/2 years!!!!!!
822 miles to go! Wish us luck!
On Thursday Kevin got his first surf lesson and got hooked... Can´t wait to try it again!!!
The last weekend we spent together with Sanna and Bryan in Yosemite National Park. Impressive scenery, giant trees and our first bear encounter...
Today we came back to Sunny Vale and tomorrow we are going to San Francisco with Bryan. After that we are heading north to Bend/Oregon to meet our Quetzaltrekkers colleague Taylor again...
Here we met up with our Quetzaltrekkers-colleague Bryan. In the next days we are going to explore the Bay Area with him...
After a night in a park we moved to the most expensive hostel of our whole trip...
Today we´re going to Hollywood, Beverly Hills,...
Right now we are sitting with our Laptop on a frozen park bench in a Trailer Park in Williams.
Hopefully we will make it to warmer climate today...
Thanks to her we are already at the Grand Canyon. We will try not to freeze to death tonight - since today in the afternoon it is snowing like mad and we only have summer sleeping bags....
So we are going to stay on the main land and hitch straight up to the US-border...1300km to go!
Now we are at the coast, in the little village of Zipolite. Finally sun, beach and sea again...
Tomorrow we are going to climb the Santa Maria volcano and in the following days we will probably hike the Tajumulco volcano as well. - all without guides and tours of course!
From Antigua we finally went to Lago Atitlan and after one day in Panajachel and two days in San Marcos we are now in San Pedro. Here we will stay a day or two and then travel on to Xela (Quetzaltenango).
Today we arrived in Guatemala City and we already have explored a lot - especially all the food stalls on the streets...
Tomorrow we will probably go to Coban.
We are still in Belize and enjoy this wonderful country! Exactly the right place to celebrate our 2-years-anniversary!
Because Belize is expensive we will start the day with selling some of our bracelets at the plaza, so that we can afford the beer in the evening...
Tomorrow we will travel to Livingston/Guatemala - The last caribbean destination on our trip :-(
Our first impression of Guatemala was not a good one. Luckily we are already in Belize. We came here only to extend our visa and found a new favourite country!!! Exactly what we need right now! The last weeks were a little bit hard...
From the little village of San Ignacio we will explore the surrounding in the next days. Don't worry if you don't hear from us too regularly in the next weeks as internet costs here are outragious!!!! We are just enjoying paradies!