Places

NYC Sunset from the Highline

Whenever I thought of NYC, my mind wandered to the images I had experienced on my business trips to the big Apple: extremely polluted, overly crowded and never-ending avenues filled with busy stressed-out people.

I used to be one of them.

My trips to NYC were never as amazing as they seemed (after all, I spent most of my waking time inside hotels and office buildings). To this, I must add that my trips, though frequent, were always ridiculously short (mostly 2-3 days, arriving on a Sunday evening) and hardly ever allowed for “a day off“.

This was one of the reasons I made New York one of my priorities this summer: I really wanted to live the city. I wanted to spend enough time around to appreciate what makes NYC, well, NYC. What is it that makes people fall in love with this place?

Well, I think I found the answer: Sunsets.

And these are my all-time NYC favourites.

Grand Ferry Park (Brooklyn)

NYC Sunset from Grand Ferry Park

NYC Sunset from Grand Ferry Park

NYC Sunset from Grand Ferry Park

On my second day in New York, I returned back to Brooklyn late in the afternoon – right on time for the sunset. I was hoping to capture it on camera, but had no idea where to go. I followed to Hudson River up towards North Williamsburg until I came across a tiny green waterfront space offering an open view of the Manhattan skyline. I wasn’t alone, of course: roughly 20 people were spread across the park having a drink or snack while watching the sun disappear behind the skyscrapers.

Location: between Grand Street, West River Street and the East River (map)

The Highline (Manhattan)

NYC Sunset from the Highline

NYC Sunset from the Highline

If you are planning to visit New York, I highly recommend adding The Highline to your itinerary. But even better than walking through this exceptional park built on an elevated section of the NY Central Railroad is doing so on time to watch the sun set peek in-between the buildings.

I’m in love.

Location: The Highline runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues (map).

Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

NYC Sunset on the streets of Williamsburg

NYC Sunset on the streets of Williamsburg

NYC Sunset on the streets of Williamsburg

On a Saturday evening, the sunset caught me roaming the streets of Williamsburg (Brooklyn). There was no time left to rush down to the river. And there was no need for it, either. The golden hour swept through the green leafs – reflecting on parked cars, brick walls, pavements. It shone intensely – so much, that for a brief moment, I was blinded by its light!

This is proof that you really don’t have to go far to find beauty: just go outside and appreciate the moment. 

Location: Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact street I took these photos on – what I do know is that it was between Bedford Ave Station and Williamsburg Bridge (map). 

Wythe Hotel Rooftop (Brooklyn)

NYC Sunset from Wythe Hotel

NYC Sunset from Wythe Hotel

NYC Sunset from Wythe Hotel

If I had to pick one place, just one place, to go and watch the sun set over New York – this place would be the rooftop of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). Because nothing really beats watching the skies change their colours over an iconic skyline while sipping rosé with friends (old and new).

Location: Wythe Hotel – 80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (map)

PS: An iPhone pic I took from the Wythe Hotel became my most liked Instagram shot so far! But, do you want to know what was actually happening behind the scenes…? 

Which is your favourite place to watch the sunset in NYC?


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Like most places we visited in Miami, Wynwood Art District was recommended to us by one of our Uber drivers.

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

I love the concept: warehouse buildings acting as giant blank canvases to showcase a major art statement. I honestly believe every larger city should have district that allows its artists to express themselves and give them an opportunity for appreciation and recognition.

Wynwood is one of those places I can’t stop reading, thinking and talking about. This level of fascination with a district doesn’t happen very often. I think I can safely say that Wynwood Miami is up there with Palermo Buenos Aires right now – and that, my friends, is quite a thing to say coming from someone who has been imagining a life in Palermo for the past 5 years.

And then, just to make things even cooler, there’s the Wynwood Walls art project.

Just picture this: Over the past 6 years, the Wynwood Walls have seen over 50 artists representing 16 countries and have covered over 7,400 m2 (or 80000 square feet) of walls.

Can you imagine the mix of styles, colours and techniques?

Even better jet, have a look at what the Wynwood Walls art project looks like. And then maybe book a trip to Miami and take me with you!

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Which is your favourite Wynwood Wall?


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In June 2015, I ventured on a 3-week solo hike along Northern Spain starting in Irún (Basque Country) and finishing in Oviedo (Asturias). This is the third post in my Camino series – click here if you missed the first and/or second post!


On my 16th day, I kicked-off in Serdio (Cantabria) at 7:45 AM (which, admittedly, wasn’t even that early) and arrived in Llanes (Asturias) more than 12 hours later. It was, without any doubt, my longest day on the Camino (which also made it one of the hardest ones). But looking back, it’s also the one I remember most fondly.

Maybe because I didn’t rush it. Maybe because I did it my own way – stopping to take a photo or going off the official route whenever I wanted. Or maybe because I had the perfect combination of solo and social time.

Although probably what really made my day was having a baby goat following us along the way.

Asturias (Spain)

I walked slow and took in as much from the landscape as I could. Eventually, my Camino family split for the day and I found myself in a not-so-well-marked coastal area on my own – doubting my own orientation skills. Soon enough, though, I saw Klaus (do you remember him?): at that point, I knew I was at least going in the right direction.

Asturias (Spain)

Asturias (Spain)

Shortly after, I was caught up by two Germans doctors and an English girl – with whom I explored hidden caves (how cool is that?) and had one too many sidras (cider) in Buelna. Later in the afternoon, outside a tiny market in Pendueles, I met a Spanish peregrino who soon became my companion for the rest of the afternoon to Llanes.

I walked about 38km on that day. I fell on my face when trying to climb a passage and got caught under drizzly rain. I never felt so much pain in my feet and honestly doubted I would ever get to Llanes in one piece. Ultimately, I almost cried when I was informed that the entire city of Llanes was booked out that night (and we were suggested to continue walking! another 5km! are they crazy?).

But somehow, it all worked out. I found a hotel room (the very last one) – and even got a pilgrim discount. I was on some kind of tiredness-fuelled energy high that even got me out of that lovely room to have more celebratory sidra that night. While I shared my pictures of caves, rugged coastlines, green hills and bird-eye view of Llanes I kept on thinking to myself: wow, I actually did it!

Asturias (Spain)

So it’s no surprise that I decided to take the next day off walking. Or at least, off long-distance trekking – as, for some reason, I just couldn’t sit still. After wandering through the streets of beautiful Llanes (above), I headed off along the coastline to the next small town with an albergue (Po). And then, on to the next one (Celorio).

Playa de Po, Llanes (Asturias)

Concejo de Llanes, Asturias (Spain)

The entire Concejo de Llanes has an incredible amount of beautiful natural beaches surrounded by luscious green hills. I’m determined to return to Llanes next summer for a longer period just to spend more time exploring the coast!

Asturias (Spain)

The walk to Ribadesella on day 18 felt surprisingly easy! Granted, there was hardly any hight difference and the path was a rather balanced mix of road and trail – leading through small villages, grassy fields and great cultural sights (such as the above of the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores in Barro).

My favourite bit of this day was, without doubt, the entrance into Ribadesella through the colourful old fishers town of El Portiellu.

El Portiellu, Ribadesella (Asturias)

El Portiellu, Ribadesella (Asturias)

My Camino family split in Llanes – so at the time we reached Ribadesella, only 3 of us were left. You would think that having to say goodbye to people you’ve only met 2 weeks ago would be easy, but when you’ve been through hell and heaven on the Camino, your relationship to those around you is intensified.

As my deadline and destination goal was approaching as well, I felt a bit blue (for the lack of a better word).

On the 19th day, we walked roughly 20km to Colunga – a big part of it along the Camino Real, which covers the local beaches and surrounding hills. It was a beautiful day to walk – not too hot, not too cold (although the latter had never really been the issue, really!).

Signage Camino del Norte, Spain

Asturias (Spain)

While sitting in a beach café in La Isla with Sara, we overheard a group of women discussing the disappearance of a female pilgrim on the Camino Francés earlier this year. We were both aware of this event (in fact, Sara had packed a pepper spray can in her backpack), but it didn’t stop us from going solo. Nor did it stop many other female travellers we crossed paths with over the past 3 weeks. It made us realise that there hadn’t been a moment when we felt in danger.

Yes, terrible things happen sometimes. When walking on a less-frequented paths, I was always alert and intuitive and usually knew how far/close the next group of pilgrims were. And by doing this, I always felt safe.

Asturias (Spain)

On my last day as part of (what was left of) my Camino family, we walked 18km to Villaviciosa – the apple capital of Spain. Yes, there was certainly lots of cider!

Villaviciosa, Asturias (Spain)

We reminisced about the many stories we collected along our Camino and remembered all the people we had met. We promised to keep in touch (thanks, Facebook!) and to always remember this experience.

As my final Camino day arrived, I was equally excited and sort of heart-broken. I actually didn’t really want this adventure to end! Soon after leaving Villanueva, I reached the point at which the Camino divided in two parts: on the right, it would continue to Gijón along the Camino del Norte, and on the left, it would route towards Oviedo – the start of the Camino Primitivo.

Towards Oviedo, I came across de impressive pre-romanesque Monasterio de San Salvador de Valdediós (below).

Monasterio de San Salvador, Asturias (Spain)

After the Monastery, the path went uphill to Alto de la Campa (photo below) – constantly allowing me to peek over the Valley from different angles.

I had heard that, on the Camino Primitivo, signs were less frequent and sometimes a bit confusing. True – In fact, I even came across conflicting signs! But somehow, with a bit of intuition, I didn’t get lost on this rather solitary path. During the whole day I only came across 2 fellow pilgrims, so I guess most of them decide to continue along the Camino del Norte to Gijón instead!

At Vega del Siero I hopped on a bus with one of the wisest pilgrims I had come across with: a french retiree who who had already walked over 1000km starting in France. She reminded me of how personal the Camino is:

There’s really no right or wrong way of walking it. No age, belief or physical requirements. There’s no minimum distance and no real schedule (but the one you build up in your head). And there’s nobody to impress or feel judged by (but ourselves).

Alto de Campa, Asturias (Spain)

That afternoon, I arrived in Oviedo without much of a plan but to walk through the old town, explore every inch of the city and eat local bonito del norte a la plancha (below) before saying goodbye to the Camino (for now!).

Oviedo, Asturias (Spain)

Bonito del Norte, Oviedo, Asturias (Spain)

Catedral de Oviedo, Asturias (Spain)

Have you been to Asturias in Spain?


My Camino: notes and snapshots of Basque Country (Spain) is the third post of my Camino series:


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In June 2015, I ventured on a 3-week solo hike along Northern Spain starting in Irún (Basque Country) and finishing in Oviedo (Asturias). This is the second post in my Camino seriesclick here if you missed the first post!


I had been on the road for 8 days and was in serious need of a good night sleep and a long hot shower. I had survived the hardest bit (or that, at least, I kept on repeating to myself). As long as I had a good night sleep, I could be back climbing hills and mountains.

I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in a design pension in the heart of Castro Urdiales. It was Friday night and the city was buzzing with live and laughter. Not that I saw any of it – I was soundly asleep.

Castro Urdiales, Cantabria (Spain)

After spending 12 hours in bed, I was ready to explore Castro – its beautiful cathedral, lively old town and port as well as its beaches and natural pools. I wasn’t ready to leave yet. This would be the place I would stay for two nights. It never felt wrong – in contrary, it was incredibly right in so many ways. This extra time allowed me to recover from my lack of sleep, heal some rough patches on my feet and just spend the rest of the day on the beach!

Then, on the tenth day, I was back on my foot.

Cantabria (Spain)

Some days felt longer than they seemed to be on paper. I never had a proper GPS tracking my position, but I am pretty sure that our walk from Castro Urdiales to Laredowas significantly longer than the 30km stated in the Guidebook.

This day, I learned about the many different things can that make a long hike more entertaining: singing (musicals, if possible), finding shapes and patterns, stopping to talk with other pilgrims and locals, creating photo themes, petting every animal that accepts your affection, and getting off the regular path every now and then to see what’s up that hill / down that road (and figuring out how to find your way back to the Camino after that!).

At the end of the day, I had a myriad of photos taken fom unlikely angles and suffered from a funny limp (I might or might not have occasionally skipped to the soundtracks of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz – while carrying over 12kg on my back). But hey, it was a gorgeous walk!

On day 11, about half of the time we walked from Laredo to Güemes, we were barefoot digging out toes into the sand. It felt like heaven to my feet (and my eyes, too!). 

Laredo, Cantabria (Spain)

Cantabria (Spain)

The other half, however, was spent on asphalt – which (specially on hot days like these) felt like hell. At the end of the day, we were rewarded with one of the most inspiring stays on the Camino del Norte: a night at La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto

Here, we learned about the life and work of Ernesto Bustio – who is well known throughout the Camino del Norte for his hospitality, generosity and sympathy.

Note: You can read more about here: Ernesto Bustio, peregrino de la vida (in Spanish).

Oh, and we also met his adorable dog!

Güemes, Cantabria (Spain)

On the next day, we walked from Güemes to Santander, which was a rather easy 15km hike – mostly along the coastline. This time could have been rather uneventful day – but, instead, it turned into one of my favourite ones for two reasons:

This beach…

Cantabria (Spain)

… And this coastline.

Cantabria (Spain)

We made many stops along the way – and even went swimming! (I’m blocking out the fact that the water was probably on the same temperature level than, say, England *shudder*).

On the next day, we made our way out of Santander to Santillana del Mar. Now, you may remember that, in the Basque Country, I made a few executive decisions to skip small bits that weren’t particularly beautiful. Well, I kind of wish I had done it here, too – but when I realised I was in the heart of the industrial outskirts of Santander, it was too late.

Thankfully, our arrival at Santillana del Mar made up for the otherwise a bit dull walk. The medieval village is filled with half-timbered houses and stone-built mansions that meet on the centric cobblestone streets. Yes, it’s touristy – But hey, it’s pretty, too. It reminded me a bit of Peratallada (Catalonia)!

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria (Spain)

This night, on day 13, we stayed at what soon was referred to as our Castle – a renovated 16th century palace set in the heart of the village, converted into a private Albergue called Solar de Hidalgos. You guys, totally worth it!

Anyway, by now I realised that I’ve never given much detail about my Camino family. Admittedly, to any outsiders, we were a rather unlikely tribe. Nomads, teachers, students, hippies, believers – you would say we would easily run out of common topics, but it never happened.

One of the best things about being part of a little Camino tribe is that we all put our different skills together to benefit the entire group. As luck would have it, one of the guys used to be a tourist Guide and has an insatiable interest in history and volunteered to tour us around Comillas after we had settled in.

Comillas, Cantabria (Spain)

Comillas, Cantabria (Spain)

My 15th day was scheduled to be another long one: 29km from Comillas (Cantabria) to Colombres (Asturias) – However,things don’t always go as planned.

That’s part of the beauty of the Camino de Santiago: even though it’s good to have a plan, it’s good to ditch it, too.

Cantabria (Spain)

Cantabria (Spain)

As we arrived at the charming and friendly town of Serdio and met other peregrinos we had been bumping into every other day, we took the unanimous executive decision to change plans and stay in Serdio instead. It was well worth it – even if this meant walking an extra 9km the next day!

This was, of course, before checking out next day’s itinerary!

Note: Even though my 16th day started off in Cantabria, the majority of the time hiking was spent in Asturias. If you don’t want to miss the next part, just pop you email below and each new post will magically appear in your inbox – and voilá!

Have you been to Cantabria in Spain?


My Camino: notes and snapshots of Cantabria (Spain) is the second post of my Camino series :


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I never thought I would be the kind of woman that would venture into a 3-week hike across unknown territory on her own. I don’t have a particularly good sense of direction, have never carried a large backpack more than from a train station to a hotel and didn’t know one thing about first aid.

Irún, Basque Country (Spain)

In fact, I wasn’t entirely aware of the situation I had gotten myself into until I landed in Irún (my starting point) and began to look for the Camino way marks. Camino Guide in hand, I walked up and down the main roads looking for Camino sign posts. It took me a while to realise that the directions are sometimes marked with a shell on the pavement. Other times, they’re yellow arrows (on walls, trees, pavement, buildings, etc). And only a few times they’re actual sign posts that read Camino de Santiago.

Ha! Nice one. At least this got me to be extremely alert during this trip!

Pasaia, Basque Country (Spain)

On my first day on the trek, though, I got lost. In heavy rain. And wind. And fog. 

I wonder how many times I had told myself to quit that same day. I would arrive at Pasaia (pictured above), take a bus back to Irún, a train to Madrid and a flight to Tenerife. I would spend the next 3 weeks reading thrillers in a hammock – I assured myselfBut, after sitting down in Pasaia for lunch, I picked myself (and my drenched boots and clothes) up and continued walking.

That night, I stayed at a Twelve Tribes community which was, hands down, one of the most curious experiences I had on the Camino.

San Sebastián, Basque Country (Spain)

San Sebastián, Basque Country (Spain)

Walking on your own might sound daunting (maybe even scary), but I felt it was empowering. It has definitely given me more independency and self-sufficiency, and it has allowed me to follow my own rhythm: stopping to take photos, drink coffee or just take off my boots and put my feet in the air. When I walked on my own, I didn’t have to give anyone any explanations.

The first pilgrim I met was Rahel (Switzerland), in a popular café in San Sebastián overlooking one of the city’s beaches. Meeting her was a turning point: I had set off convinced that I wanted to walk the whole way alone and here, on day 2, I realised that maybe I actually wanted some company. Sometimes. 

And then I decided that the Camino was going to be a great excuse to be my extroverted self (whenever I wanted!).

Locals always greeted me back with a smile and a “Buen Camino”. Day trippers stopped by to ask where I started and where I was planning to go and often even added some local insight (like, which GR route offers better views!). And many pilgrims I met on the way became an integer part of my experience. There’s no doubt about it: the Camino creates a special bond and camaredie among those who walk it.

One of the nicest gestures anyone can do for a pilgrim? Give him some free water refill and maybe even some shade. I found this one on my second day, on Mount Igueldo just passed San Sebastián. It was 28ºC and I’m eternally thankful.

Pilgrim love in Basque Country (Spain)

Some days, I decided to follow people. I didn’t do this because I felt unsafe or have a stalker side (promise). No. Instead, I figured that following someone would make me speed up my walking. You see, at the beginning, I had a tendency to stop way too often – which in turn led me to be the very last pilgrim arriving to the end of a stage.

There’s definitely a plus to following the right kind of pilgrim (the kind that has done this or other Caminos before): less chances of getting lost and higher chances of going an alternative more scenic route. On my third day, I followed Klaus (Germany), and got to see this amazing view over Zarautz (he definitely knew what he was doing!).

Zarautz, Basque Country (Spain)

More than one pilgrim I have met on the trek has told me that you don’t lose weight on the Camino del Norte. Now I know the reason for this: pintxos, txacolí and patxarán. Now, I know from a lot of other pilgrims who left the Basque Country without even trying a txacolí (regional write wine) – but how? How did they fight the urge to drop their backpack and go hopping from winery to winery?

I made it a mission to have a txacolí the night after walking through Getaria wine region (below).

Getaria, Basque Country (Spain)

Not all days were along the coast  though – Some paths allowed me to explore the basque countryside.

My fifth and sixth hiking days (Deba – Markina Xemein – Guernica) were definitely the most physically challenging – but the landscapes were well worth it! At first, I couldn’t believe that I was still in Spain. I had never seen such clean, organised roads and farms outside of Switzerland. Even buildings that seemed abandoned were picturesque and well cared of.

Basque Country (Spain)
Basque Country (Spain)

Monasterio de Zenarruza, Basque Country (Spain)

On the fifth day, somewhere between Deba and Markina Xemein, I met what would become my Camino family. While I was having a great time meeting people individually, it was nice to be able to form a small group and challenge each other to push through the hardest times on the way. I’m honestly not sure I would have made it from Deba to Guernica in 2 days if it wasn’t for them!

Guernica, Basque Country (Spain)

The hike from Guernica into Bilbao was a long one. It didn’t help that we actually only found our way out of Guernica at 9:50 AM (who knew arrows become oak tree leafs in this city?).

It was also one of the hottest days on the Camino (I’m pretty sure temperatures reached +33ºC!), which isn’t fun unless you’re lying in the shade at the beach with an ice-filled cocktail in your hands. In the afternoon, I took the executive decision to take a bus for the last bit of the walk and reward myself with a glass of cold txacolí in Bilbao

I only felt a tiny bit guilty.

Bilbao, Basque Country (Spain)

The Basque Country was certainly the region with the hardest terrain – But those ups and downs paid off well when offering some of the best views on the trek. It also made me appreciate the flatter days way more than I did before. The hike towards Castro Urdiales, for instance, was an easy and beautiful transition from Pais Vasco into Cantabria!

Also: I’ve still not learned to walk between cows without feeling observed. Can you?

Cows on the Camino del Norte (Spain)

Have you been to the Basque Country in Spain?


My Camino: notes and snapshots of Basque Country (Spain) is the first post of my Camino series:


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“When in doubt, just take the next small step.”

– Paulo Coehlo, The Pilgrimage

Hiking in Tenerife

Me, contemplating what next

Putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next small step is something I’ve been doing a long time. It’s no secret that hiking is one of my favourite things to do when I travel. It’s also one of my favourite things to do on weekends. There’s something about it that just feels so liberating!

I love the way walking the trail frees me from all those mundane distractions. This clarity and the incredible and unexpected landscapes that I discover are the main reasons why I love trekking. 

So, after months of wishing, planning and asking a million questions on the Camino de Santiago, I’ve finally made plans to begin my own pilgrimage.

What is the Camino de Santiago?

Symbol of the Camino de Santiago

Source: Flexitreks

The Camino is a pilgrimage route that has existed in Spain since the IX Century, when the remains of Saint James Apostle were discovered to be buried in Santiago de Compostela. peregrinos (pilgrims) travelled to Galicia from all over Europe to see it.

Nowadays, there’s an entire network of routes coming from all over Europe to converge at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The most popular way, the Camino Francés (or French Way), was declared the first European Cutural Route by the Council of Europe in 1987 and inscribed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1993.

Camino de Santiago routes in Spain

Source: Mundicamino

While The Camino has been the subject of many books and films, its popularity probably  increased dramatically after the release of Emilio Estevez’s film, The Way, in 2012. Last year, almost 250.000 pilgrims walked reached Santiago – roughly 65% choosing the Camino Francés.

Not me though. 

I’m doing the Camino del Norte, or Northern Way – see red route in the map above.

Out of all the routes – why the Camino del Norte?

While significantly less-travelled and more challenging than others, everyone I’ve spoken to agrees that the landscapes are worth the challenge. Starting in Irún (a small town in Gipuzkoa, Basque Country), the trail follows the rugged northern coast of Spain, combining coastal walks and mountain hikes.

Camino del Norte

Source: Flickr 

The entire route from Irún to Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) is a +800 km (roughly 500 miles) trek, which most people complete in between 30 and 40 days. The thing is: I don’t have so much time available on one go (in fact – not many people do!), so I’m planning to complete my pilgrimage in smaller episodes.

This time, I’m planning to trek from Irún to Oviedo (roughly 490 km – or 300 miles). This might seem irrational at first: Why not start somewhere halfway to Santiago in order to reach the final destination? First and foremost, Because I’m stubborn – and really really want to, eventually, do the whole thing. But also because it’s summer, and I am excited about seeing more of the Northern coastline – maybe even dip my battered feet into the cold Cantabrian Sea.

After all, the Camino is not so much about the destination, but about the journey!

Camino del Norte

Source: Flickr

One of the many things that I love about the Camino is that there is no right and wrong way of doing it. Some people walk the entire +800 km in one go, while others complete theirs by going back year after year. Some stay at albergues and camping sites, others book hostels and hotels on the way. Some go solo, others go in groups – heck, there are even organised tours in case you can’t convince your friends about the fun in walking +20 km per day but don’t really want to do it on your own, either.

Why I’m walking the Camino

People walk the Camino for many reasons – and they’re certainly not always religious. I’ve got many little reasons to walk it. I do it for the challenge and the adventure; to get out of my comfort zone. I walk for the solitude; for the opportunity to unplug, appreciate the present moment and gain some perspective. But then, I also walk for companionship; to meet new people on the road.

I am really looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks thinking of nothing else than taking the next small step!

During the trek, I will be sharing live updates on Twitter and Instagram (PS: are we friends yet?), so follow along!

Looking out to my left, I felt equally excited and terrified – I was sitting on a  chair lift up to Kriegerhorn (2173m), Austria, watching the pros slide down a steep mountain. So graceful, so confident – so fearless.

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Weeks before, I had spent a day browsing through winter sports apparel in London – convincing myself that, to ski well, I required the perfect equipment. I watched videos, trying hard to remember what I had to do with my weight in order to make a turn. I wanted to hit the pistes skiing with confidence, like I’ve never done before.

Back on that chair lift, though, I began to have my doubts.

Hmmm… Visibility isn’t that good, I need to go extra slow. But wait, this is getting a bit too steep for me. Oh, look how fast they go! I can’t control my speed that well. Heck, I can’t even turn that well! What am I doing? What was I thinking?! Can you please take me back down again?

I have a secret: I’m afraid of falling (ok, so it’s not that much of a secret anymore…). The truth is, whenever I am faced with a steep slope or a narrow uneven path (whether I’m on skis or just on my own feet), I have the feeling that I may loose my balance. I recognise the pattern: my heart beat accelerates, my breathing quickens and overall I feel tense. In the worst cases, though – I am literally paralysed. It might only be a few seconds or it might be 10 minutes. All I know is that to me it feels like a lifetime.

Hiking Guajara, Tenerife (Spain)

I should limit my activities to snorkelling and sunbathing (both of which I love, too). But I can’t. I love the outdoors – particularly mountains. And volcanoes. Oh, and challenging hikes around mountains and volcanoes!

While it hasn’t always been easy, I constantly aim to challenge my irrational fear of loosing balance and falling. The thought of all the breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences that await at the top of those mountains give me enough courage to break through my limiting thoughts and reach higher. 

Skiing in Lech, Austria

So, back on the chair lift in Austria, I could have let my thoughts send me back down the same way I went up. But instead, I gracefully got off the chair lift with a heart that felt like it was going to jump out of my chest and fall down the mountains all by itself any second.

I moved slow – so slow that sometimes it felt I was actually skiing up the mountain, not down. But I kept on moving – and each time new scary thoughts came into my mind, I tried my best to imagine a mental door and let them go.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that all went great on this trip.

I did fall (not as often as I expected) and it was embarrassing (specially that one time I lost both skis!). I twisted my wrist trying to get up again after falling into deep powder snow (which, otherwise, is more fun that Christmas itself!). And I froze of fear. Once. It wasn’t pretty.

But you know what? I got over it. 

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Note: see the goofy girl in blue over there? That’s me getting over it.

What I learned from this trip is that skiing might be a lot about technique – but a lot of it is trust, too. Trust in your equipment, your skills and your balance – but over everything else: trust in yourself – specially when the scary gets particularly tough.

Getting gutsy for me is precisely that – trusting myself when it gets challenging. Pushing myself to the limit, getting uncomfortable and constantly confront my fear of falling. It’s  beyond bravery. It’s daring to go ahead in spite of the doubtful part of my conscience. It’s doing something that scares me.


Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.


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Early this year I confessed why I’m not fond of New Year resolutions and, instead, created a more strategic (or maybe I should say flexible) approach to goal setting – I picked 3 words that would reflect my year:

Grow. Simplify. Radiant. 

I reminded myself of these 3 words throughout 2014 – when I had to take difficult decisions at work, when I decided (or not) to spend money on something, when I was tempted to hit the alarm snooze one more time or when I found myself browsing past 10:30 PM.

Did it work well? Sometimes (hitting snooze once again is way too tempting when it’s cold, rainy and dark outside!).

Anyway, below is a recap of my ups and downs this year together with my favourite Instagram shot of the month. Brace yourself, this is a long one!


 January

London rooftops

I started off 2014 with a lot of logistics – I was just about to move flats (and neighbourhoods) for the 4th time in London. I sold some stuff, donated a lot more and sent some of my most valuable furniture back to Spain. I took simplifying rather seriously!

It was a grey and gloomy month in London – so I was extremely thankful to have had the chance to meet 3 girlfriends in Frankfurt for a weekend of music, wine and laughs!

About the Instagram shot: During my move, I spent 2 nights in Marylebone looking over these rooftops. Walking around these streets is still one of my favourite things to do on an afternoon, and one of my top recommendations for any London visitor!

February

Las Salinas, Lanzarote (Canary Islands)

My February highlight was, with no doubt, my escape to Lanzarote (Canary Islands). With 2 of my closest friends, we spent our days eating fresh caught fish, sunbathing next to our pool, exploring volcanic caves and craters and drinking local wine. Total bliss.

About the Instagram shot: The Salinas del Janubio (Lanzarote) is the largest sea salt production in the Canary Islands. We drove there to watch the sunset over these salt flats and the black sand beach attached to them – pretty special!

March

Sunset in Los Abrigos, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

March was pretty uneventful most of the time. I did manage somehow to pick a weekend to fly home to Tenerife for a quick fix of fish and sunshine. I’m grateful to live somewhere  with a manageable distance from home – because, I mean, taking a 4.5 hr flight for a weekend trip is totally normal, right? I’ve definitely seen worse.

About the Instagram shot: I took this shot from one of my favourite restaurants in Los Abrigos in Tenerife. It summarises my weekend escapes to the island quite well – great weather, fresh caught fish and a warm sea breeze. Take me back!

April

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

Work picked up really quickly in April and I was suddenly facing weeks filled with new big challenges and late nights in the office. At the end of the month, I traveled to New York and Boston – Boston for the first time! Even though I could hardly think of anything else other than work, I loved the architecture and vibe both cities and started to count my days until my return.

About the Instagram shot: When I left Boston on that Saturday morning, it was grey and rainy. After 4 hours, as I slowly approached New York, the skies cleared up allowing me to see the city’s skyscrapers from afar. I love the contrasts in this picture – the suburban and urban New York all in one. 

May

Barcelona, Spain

May was quite a month.

To start with – I turned 30! Surprisingly, this milestone didn’t come in hand with an existential crisis. Or, hm, wait – I did book a last minute trip to Barcelona, partly to regain my youth on the dance floor (and partly to completely lose it again while curing my hangover).

But flashback a few weeks before and you’d find me in a comatose state at home, after having my first (and hopefully last ever) blood transfusion. How did I get to this point? I’m still not sure, but let me share this valuable lesson: you should never be too busy to take care of yourself.

About the Instagram shot: I took this picture while strolling along the tiny streets of EL Borne in Barcelona (one of my favourite neighbourhoods!) on a Saturday afternoon.

June

Lisbon, Portugal

June was work-intensive – with a successful European roadshow that travelled through London, Copenhagen, Paris and Lisbon in just about a week time. It was my first time in Copenhagen! Though grey and far colder than the rest of my visits, it sparked my curiosity – I can’t wait to return for fun next time.

I was also incredibly grateful to get the time to go to a good Uni friend’s wedding in Valladolid (Spain). It was so much fun to get together with so many people I hadn’t seen in such a long time – there was lots to catch up on over tapas and gin & tonics and lots to celebrate with great champagne, of course!

About the Instagram shot: My room with a view in Lisbon (Portugal). As is usual during business travel, I didn’t get to see much of the city (aside for a few streets around our hotel) – but this amazing view partly made up for that loss. 

July

Tarifa, Spain

In July, I travelled to Tarifa – a small but trendy town on the south coast of Spain. Together with 3 close friends, I explored its beaches and sand dunes and worked on my tan during the day and fully enjoyed its vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife during the night.

About the Instagram shot: Here’s the thing about Tarifa – its beaches are absolutely beautiful, but can also be incredibly windy (it’s a hotspot for kite- and windsurfers). On the day I took this shot, the wind was almost unbearable in the sand and the only *safe* place was close to the water!

August

Tenerife from above, Spain

At the end of July, I realised that I still had plenty of holidays that I had to take before the end of August, so I packed all those days together and, after looking for two-week retreats in Costa Rica and group treks in Iceland, I finally decided to go home. Not the most exciting alternative, at first sight – but I did manage to combine all I wanted in one place (wellness and hiking) while also saving money (self high five!)

My favourite moment of those two weeks was, without doubt, watching the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain (Mount Teide) – an experience I can’t recommend enough for anyone hoping to see the island from an entire different perspective.

About the Instagram shot: Approaching Tenerife brings up the butterflies in my stomach. This has been my favourite plane picture so far. It shows its vast geological diversity and oh, hello, that’s Mount Teide over there!

September

St Paul's Cathedral, London

… And then September came. The month could be easily summarised as work, work and more work. I previously described September as exhausting, chaotic and extremely challenging – but this would still be an understatement. I got through the month with rather few personal highlights but a lot of rewarding professional accomplishments!

About the Instagram shot: St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favourite city landmarks. I can’t stop myself from taking a picture each time I’m outside the London Stock Exchange. 

October

New York (USA)

It’s strange to think about October as a work-filled month (compared to September, it was a breeze!), but the truth is, it was pretty hectic too. I travelled to Paris, Zürich, New York, Boston and Frankfurt – and also held several events in London.

At the end of it all, I was pretty exhausted and went home to Tenerife to sleep under the sun. I actually didn’t even blog in October… I had a proper technology detox and it felt great!

About the shot: The above picture was taken from the roof top bar at The Peninsula in New York on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I’ve got a thing for skyscrapers – and I am constantly wishing London had more of them. 

November

Weekend in Paris

This year the World commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Remembrance Day in London saw a completed work of art made of over 800,000 ceramic poppies – one for each British or colonial life lost during the war. 

In November, I also travelled to Paris on my first fam trip!

About the shot: Ah, this is one of my favourite photographs of the year – and also your most liked one (thank you!). While in Paris, I stayed at Le Maurice. I got up early on Sunday to watch the sun rise over Paris *sigh*

December

Lech, Austria

December came, and so did lots of social events (work and personal), yearly reviews and exciting travels. After spending a few days for Christmas at home in Tenerife, I am now writing these final words from a snowy ski town in Arlberg, Austria. It’s been 2 years since I last took the slopes and my first time in Austria.

About the shot: I just arrived in Austria less than 2 days ago and this is the view from the hotel’s reception. It has been snowing almost non-stop since we’ve arrived – perfect timing!


The next time you hear from me it will be 2015! I hope you have a great holiday and start of the new year. Thank you so much for your support in 2014 – I’m really looking forward to what 2015 brings!


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Blood swept lands and seas of red

Over the past months, the Tower of London has been transformed into a red sea of hand-made ceramic poppies to commemorate the start of World War One. The first poppy was planted in July – ever since, 16,000 volunteers from across the World have donated their time to help plant the 888,246 flowers – each of which represents a British or colonial life lost during the war.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and set designer Tom Piper has a remarkable theatrical effect. I felt overwhelmed by the number of flowers filling the moat and moved by the flow of poppies pouring over the walls of the tower and out its windows. It really provides a sense of perspective to the vast consequences of World War One (or, any war, really!).

Sure, the installation only commemorates the loss of british allied services’ lives, but the truth is – any life lost to war is one life too many. I can’t even imagine how the installation would look like if we added all +16 million lost lives, regardless where they came from.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Each poppy has been sold to the public for £25 each, with a share of the proceeds going to six service charities in the UK – and they’ve already been sold out!

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The last poppy will be planted on the 11th of November, Armistice Day. If you’re in London before this day, I strongly encourage you to pay a visit this installation – it truly reflects the magnitude of this event.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

One of the many reasons I love to return home to Tenerife is to decompress from the 24-hour buzz of life in London and reconnect with nature. Sure, the city has plenty of beautiful parks I love – but there’s nothing that really compares to a 3-4 hour hike in the mountains or even a 1-hour stroll along a sunny coast.

In the heart of the Tenerife, lies El Teide, which at 3718 M (roughly 12,198 feet) above sea level is the highest point in Spain and also the 3rd highest volcano in the World as measured from its base on the Atlantic floor (right after Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii). You might be surprised to read that El Teide is still active – with its most recent eruption as late as 1909.

After a few months of regular training, I was ready to take on a new challenge: climbing Mount Teide to watch the sunrise from the highest peak in Spain.

First Section – From Montaña Blanca to the Base

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Our path began at roughly 4:00 PM the afternoon before at the car park located on km 40.3 of the TF-21 road. The track is a very easy walk that offers impressive views of the volcano and its surroundings – largely covered with pumice (a light coloured volcanic rock). After about 30 minutes, we reached a set of volcanic bombs known as the Huevos del Teide. These solidified lava balls rolled down the mountain side from the front of advancing lava flows during the volcanic eruptions.

45 minutes later, we arrived at the bottom or base of the volcano itself – where the real adventure began!

Second Section – From the Base to Refugio Altavista

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

The road we had been following throughout the past 5KM turned into a steep, narrow and rocky path (Route 7 – La Rambleta).

The ascent from the base (at roughly 2700 M) to Refugio Altavista (at 3260 M) is short in distance, but quite tough because of its slope (almost 600 M hight in roughly 2 KM). With each step, I noticed the increasing lack of oxygen – What would normally take me 30 minutes to hike, took almost double the time.

Occasionally, we were overtaken by some super-humans who probably spent every one of their holidays racing up and down volcanoes. I wasn’t there to compete though – so I walked my own pace to allow my body to adjust to the height and avoid running out of breath.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Roughly two hours on, we arrived at what would be our accommodation (Refugio Altavista) – right on time to quickly freshen up before watching the sun set over the mountains.

The Refugio Altavista consists of two buildings with a capacity of 54 people. Everybody staying in the refuge had one common goal – to reach the crater before sunrise! For this reason, the maximum stay is one night only and you asked to leave the Refuge before 8:00 AM (who stays until that late anyway?).

I was in bed by 9:45 PM.

Note: The panoramic picture above is the view from the refugio – showing the shadow of the volcano.

Third Section – From Refugio Altavista to the Crater

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

I didn’t sleep much that night. I’m not sure if it was the excitement, the altitude or the snoring (or maybe a combination of all three) – but time flew and it felt like only minutes had passed when I started to hear the first early-risers getting ready for the big climb. At 5:15 AM I slowly climbed down my bunk bed, put on my headlamp and packed my backpack.

At 6:00 AM, after a light breakfast and a strong coffee, it was time to go!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Starting at over 3200 M above sea level and having another 500 M height difference ahead of us, we calculated we’d need one and a half hours to reach the summit. I thought I’d have a tough time getting up early to go out for a challenging hike in the dark, but I was wrong – I felt like a kid on a very important mission.

The wind had picked up a bit, which made the walk in the dark even more interesting. Every now and then I could catch a flickering headlamp and hear low voices drifting from above. Sometimes, I stopped to look back just to confirm that I indeed wasn’t alone up there. 

When the sun began to rise, I was still a short walk away from the summit. I had to stop for a picture, though – the panoramic view was breathtaking.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

One final push and I reached the summit on time for the grand opening!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

My hands were trembling (it was cold!) and my heart felt like it was going to pack up and leave. While I attempted to recover my breath, I explored the rest of the summit and found the the other side of the sunrise – the shadow of the volcano.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

The skies began to transcend from pink to yellow. Some hikers (probably those with another long day of adventure ahead of them) began their descend. Others (me included) didn’t really want to leave at all. I could have stayed all day, if it wasn’t for the strong smell of sulphur!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Fourth Section – from the Crater to the Cable car

It was only once we began to descend the crater that I could fully appreciate the lunar landscape. The trip down wasn’t easy as there was plenty of loose rock and gravel – another perfect excuse to stop to take photos.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Many hikers (me included) took the easier way back down the volcano by getting on the cable car. The first one runs at 9:00 AM, which gave me some more extra time to capture the rocky landscape.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Too soon, it was 9:00 AM and we hopped on the cable car together with another 20 glowing hikers – all of us sharing photos and experiences of that crazy time we watched the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Note: while a number of enthusiastic hikers challenge themselves to reach the crater before sunrise, this is far from being the only way to go. From the Upper Station of the cable car, Route No. 10 (Telesforo Bravo) also leads to the summit. This hike, while still challenging because of the altitude and the loose rocks and gravel, is much shorter! Remember: you will need a permit to access the crater during daytime (you can request the permit here). 

Practical Information

Route: Montaña Blanca – Pico del Teide
Elevation gain uphill: 1450 m approx.
Elevation gain downhill: 170 m approx.
Length: around 12 km
Duration: from Montaña Blanca to the Refugio Altavista, around 2.5 to 3.5 hrs // from Refugio Altavista to the summit between 1.5 and 2.5 hrs (depends on how you cope with altitude).
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult (depends on your shoes and condition)
Wikiloc: Ruta Montaña Blanca-Pico Teide (does not include the descend to the cable car)
Accommodation link: Refugio Altavista

Click here to go to all my hiking adventures.


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I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a terrible tourist.

I rarely read about a place before I go. I hardly ever travel with a map or a guide. And most of the time, I’m too impatient to queue for an hour to visit a local attraction.

During my 4 months in Barcelona, I genuinely skipped most of the city’s must see attractions, and instead chose to explore the city’s streets and neighbourhoods, its traditions and gastronomy as well as its gorgeous natural surroundings.

But a tiny part of me felt like my stay was incomplete. You see, it’s hardly impossible to talk about Barcelona without giving mention to its architectural masterpieces.

As an architecture enthusiast myself, my short time in Barcelona was heaven. Every day, I walked for at least an hour and absorbed the magnificent details of the façades.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Every now and then, I came across one of Gaudi’s many creations. For those of you who may not have heard of him, Antoní Gaudí is one of the city’s most celebrated architects. His work was strongly influenced by his 3 passions: architecture, nature and religion. I loved examining his art from the outside, looking for evidence of his influence in its details.

I have always been most intrigued by Gaudí’s masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, not only because it’s Spain’s most visited monument (despite of it still being work in progress), but because he devoted more than 40 years of his life to this project. Just imagine the amount of thought and detail he put into it! But each time I attempted to join the queue at the temple, I grew impatient and eventually left to pursue something else (like, sipping fresh orange juice on my favourite roof top). After all, I wasn’t a tourist – I was an expat.

Returning to Barcelona as a tourist one year later has given me the chance to see the city differently. This time I had no commitments, no errands to run, no sunshine to catch up with.

This time, I queued.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Standing in the main chamber looking up to the ceiling transports you to a majestic forest, with its shades and occasional light pouring in through small holes. Gaudí created this forest by developing his columns into tree branches as they reach the ceiling.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Throughout the Church, you will also find turtles supporting the bases of these tree columns and spiral staircases recreating the shape of a snail’s shell.

But my favourite detail was the colourful reflections of the sun shining through the stained glass – absolutely gorgeous.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

Visiting the Sagrada Familia was one of my favourite activities during our long weekend in Barcelona. Queuing, it turns out, was totally worth it!

Have you been to the Sagrada Familia?

Last September, I promised myself to return to Terrazas del Sauzal when I was back in Tenerife. Several flights back to the island and I finally got around returning to one of my favourite terraces on the island.

Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife (Spain)

I never get enough of this view. 

As we sat down and scanned through the menu, I noticed that, since last year, the menu had taken a twist, offering some new and refreshing choices. As much as I enjoy their tuna tartare (ah, one of my favourite picks from last time!), I was on the mission of trying out their latest creations.

The first thing that caught my attention was the tuna goldbrick. I pictured a brick of tuna – carefully decorated, resting on a delicious avocado puree and was immediately sold. After each of us chose a starter and main, we waited, expectantly, for the food to come.

It didn’t take long for our appetiser to arrive.

Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife (Spain)

I’m a big fan of small portions, and this cherry tomato and mozzarella brochette dipped in home-made pesto sauce was no exception.

Shortly after, our colourful starters were placed on the table. We ordered a vegetable tempura salad with iberian ham and prawns, decorated with mango sauce and caviar, and a foie strudel with goat cheese, topped with caramelised apple and combined with duck ham and papaya. The foie brick (which to be honest looked like a crema catalana) was an incredible combination of flavours that I hadn’t expected at all!

Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife (Spain)

Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife (Spain)

By this time, I had eaten so much of their delicious bread and starters that I was a bit worried about being able to eat the tuna brick. Note to self: put a limit on the amount of bread you want to eat that evening and actually stick to it!

Anyway, when our mains arrived, I was pleasantly surprised with my choice.

Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife (Spain)

My tuna goldbrick was actually, well, gold!

I had read before about the trend of using edible gold in restaurants and always thought: “Well it can’t be actual gold. Who would eat gold?”. The truth is, using gold in cuisine has become more and more popular – and there are different types of edible gold. If you’re living in NYC (or like me, are just curious about the crazy things some people do for marketing) – you might have heard of the Douche Burger (a burger sold for 666 USD – which, among many other luxuries, includes gold leafs).

My tuna was not covered in gold leafs (I doubt I’d be able to afford a meal at a restaurant that did!). Instead, it was sprayed gold – a much more affordable version of decorating your meal. While there was no difference in taste (it didn’t taste metallic, by the way), it was a creative touch that made me smile. 


There’s a lot of debate about the trend of adding gold to food and drinks – although these debates do refer to the much more expensive gold leafs (which are, in fact, thin pieces of the metal). For some, eating gold is an act of inexcusable opulence. For others, the ultimate in gourmet luxury. 

Would you try edible gold?

PS: I’m linking up on Treat Yo’ self Thursday with Treasure Tromp and The Happy Type!


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At the end of April, work took me to Boston and New York. The last time I had visited the Big Apple, newsmen advised not to stay outside longer than 15 minutes to avoid frostbite or hypothermia. While I still dream of the snowy sunsets from the Empire State, I’m actually glad that, this time, I escaped the big freeze and instead experienced bits of the cities in walkable temperatures.

After two days in Boston, I hopped on board of a regional train to New York. While most of my business travel experience so far has involved last minute flights, tight schedules and breathless check-ins, I was really looking forward to the opportunity to disconnect, sit back and enjoy the view. It was my first time in Boston and my first long distance ground travel experience in the US – and I had no idea of what to expect.

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

I left Boston behind and soon reached the country side – a part of the States I had only seen in movies. As I watched the world pass from my seat, I spotted old school buses, corn fields, farm houses, lakes and solitary sailing boats.

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

As we approached New York, the clouds opened up to allow the sun shine through painting the city with bright greens, blues and reds.

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

Would you choose to travel by train instead of taking the plane?


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Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

As much as I like to cozy up next to a fire in a warm gastro pub in London, I was very much looking forward to be able to trade my layers for a bit of sunshine. Scratch that – if there was one thing I was determined to do in Lanzarote, this was sunbathing. Every. Single. Day. Yes, I would need a lot of sunshine for that.

Of course, as someone who grew up in the Canary Islands, I am well aware that even Europe’s year-round beach destination can’t guarantee impeccable weather – specially not in February. So every day until the day we flew south, I wished for uninterrupted sunshine at our arrival.

And as we arrived, we realised that for once, weather was on our side.

With an average of 23-25ºC during the day, we woke up early to stretch our time out in the sunshine. We lunched on sunny terraces overlooking the sea and spent lazy afternoons drinking cold gin tonics next to our pool.

And then there was the day we visited Playa Papagayo.

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Playa Papagayo, hidden away in Los Ajaches Natural Reserve, is a crescent of natural white sand protected by rocky cliffs. It is said to be one of Lanzarote’s most beautiful beaches – and I have no doubt about it.

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

The entire island boasts a lot of natural (and unconventional) beauty because of its volcanic nature. During the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of eruptions created over 300 new volcanic peaks which can be found spread around the small island. Its volcanic nature also accounts for the different colour layers in its earth – ranging from black to red to almost white.

While we did sunbathe (a lot) in Papagayo, I’m an antsy pants and can hardly ever hold still for more than half an hour, so I set off to explore the surroundings.

Playa Papagayo might be the best known beach in the Natural Reserve, but it’s got some tough competition out there. It’s neighbouring beaches Playa Mujeres, Pozo, Congrío and Muelas, all compete with its beauty. Their further distance from the main car park and lack of beach hut serving cold drinks guarantee a much quieter stay away from the tourists.

Perfect for beach hopping!

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Practical Information: There is a 3€ charge to access Los Ajaches Natural Reserve – but believe me, it’s well worth it.

While others might study the beach possibilities, I researched the best hiking adventure in Lanzarote. And by the best, I mean one that includes lava fields and volcanoes without requiring advanced hiking skills, an excellent condition or two cars on two ends of a trail.

I chose Canldera Blanca because it was short, didn’t require alpine boots but still seemed to offer an authentic volcanic experience. And I don’t regret the choice – it was probably the easiest most rewarding hike on the island!

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

The starting point is a car park close to the tiny town of Mancha Blanca. Following the signs, we spent the first 45min or so walking through a lava field. While this part of the trail doesn’t offer any views, it’s still an interesting walk – we inspected the lava stones and glimpsed into the inside of a smaller crater (Montaña Caldereta) on our way.

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Once at the bottom of Caldera Blanca, we faced a gentle diagonal climb and soon reached the top of the crater.

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Caldera Blanca, Lanzarote (Canary Islands, Spain)

We turned to the left to walk up to the summit, from which point I believe is a descent back to the bottom of the crater and I also spotted some more adventurous hikers walking round the crater in the distance. Unfortunately it became very windy and decided to return via the same route we had come up (safety comes first!).

Practical Information

Route: Caldera Blanca (round trip)
Elevation gain uphill: 300m approx.
Elevation gain downhill: 300m approx.
Length: around 7km
Duration: 3 hrs (including break)
Difficulty: Easy (closed shoes necessary)
Wikiloc: Caldera Blanca – Lanzarote (This one is the trip around the crater).

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