I'm away for a while and if you want to follow my posts below...or just have a look at my pictures.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Incredible India

Hi all,

Again  avery short post, after all we need to enjoy our trip and not spend too much time in an internet cafe. Incredible india is incredible but this IT powerhouse does not have very fast internet everywhere... And since i also have difficulties with one of my memory cards  we only can put some random pics...but at least it is  prove we are alive and having a great time...

Some pics from the first days in Delhi......

From Delhi to the North of India. Manali and and then Leh

Mountainbiking from the highest motorable pass in the world (Kardhung la 5602 meters). Ela did also go down (very fast)  but her pics are on my unreadable memory card

Friday, September 16, 2011

Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa-Rica, USA, Spain, NL, Slovenia

Sorry...for not updating our blog before. Fortunately this does not mean that we did not experience nice things and that we stopped making here we go for a short update of the last  month..covering 7 countries.

The diving on Utila was amazing and memorable. The underwater landscapes, flora & fauna were impressive but also the events under water will not soon be forgotten. A very coolio dive master managed to get lost under water (and needed to go back up), Ela's regulator stopped working under water and robin's regulator was kicked out of his mouth by an unidentifiable swimming object...
But there was more on Utila. Once a year the island organizes a dance festival...SunJam. On an uninhabited key (=small atol) close from the main island, 1500 people gather to enjoy the music of international dj's,  sun (including -set and -rise), sea, drinks and local food. And that was obviously something that Ela and Robin needed to check out...and with success. It is a fact that we will never  again have a party on such a beautiful location again

One negative side -effect of such a party is obviously a hangover....and how to deal with that if you need to travel for 3 days. Since both our flights out of Central America were from San Jose we needed to return there. Flights were a bit too expensive so we took 2 boats, 5 taxis and 5 buses to Liberia in Costa Rica. I can tell you that if you manage to do that together (do not forget the initial hangover) without any argue and actually a lot of DO really like each other .
Kind of fed up with the buses, we decided that renting a car for a few days in Costa Rica would help us to get most out of the last few days together.....and it did. Cruising through the Nicoya peninsula from beautiful beach to beautiful beach, while occasionally driving through a river, we managed to see a lot and allowed robin to surf on the best beaches of Costa Rica

And since all good things need to come to an end, Ela and I had to split up after being 7 weeks together. I had to catch a flight to San Francisco to continue my travel and Ela was flying back to Amsterdam to prepare for her move from Utrecht to Ljubljana
But since it felt so good to be, travel and experience things together I decided to adapt my plans. Instead of staying for more than a month in the US I managed to find an earlier flight back to Amsterdam so that I could join Ela on her move. And yes this meant that I was not going to Burning Man. It was originally one of my travel objectives, but what can I say about it; I got something much better  back for it and if I ever want to go again I’m sure it is much more fun to share it with Ela and potentially some other friends. 
And selling the tickets was an experience by itself. Posting the ticket on a US website triggered about 150 replies in about 2 hours. People were willing to offer the requested amount + many other interesting/funny offers. ranging from......anyway let’s say almost anything you can imagine. Since I already have all I can imagine, I decided to sell the ticket to a Dutch guy, after all we need to help each other a bit. Arko turned  out to be a a very nice guy, and i truly hope he had a fantastic time.

But the US had more to offer than just Burning Man. The first couple of days I walked and cycled through the steep streets of San Francisco. What a great city...if you know how to avoid the mega touristic Fisherman’s wharf.  It was a delight to be able to again really speak the language, order all the food you know from home and being able to flush the toilet paper.....

Since my flight out of the US was leaving from LA, I decided to rent a car and drive along the coast southwards, after first having visited the Napa/Somota wine region. Not sure whether the americans call a red fiat 500 a real car but at least the police thought it was dangerous to drive in this object faster than the allowed speed so I was pulled over..
California does deliver some very tasty wines (but according to me a bit to acid) and the landscape is amazing, it is just a pity that these kind of activities are a bit expensive for a “backpacker”. Where the wine tasting is pretty cheap, lodging is impossible to find under 80 USD a night.   So finally, after traveling for  5 months, i decided to see whether i could sleep at people’s places via couchsurfing. Although I do realize that costs should not be the main reason to do this, it was a good trigger to do it. 
And indeed people should do these kind of things independent of the ability to pay for expensive hotels. I stayed in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara in somebody’s house and the contact with local people gives you a much better insight to the city/country. And the people I met were very open, kind, and interesting to talk to. At the same time it can be tiresome. Afterall you are kind of obliged to talk with these people, and this “obligation” can take away your feeling of freedom. So yes, I will do it in the future but only so now and then.
To be very short about the Californian coast; highway 1 is stunning and i will definitely return to spend a bit more time there. I do understand why many americans are so proud of their country. At least this part of the US deserves it (and yes NY too).

My travel back to Amsterdam was with a overnight stop in Madrid. But who can be sad about that if you have time to visit the Prado (Hieronimus Bosch was me er eentje hoor), eat some tapas and enjoy a good rioja on a sunny terrace.

And then arriving back in Amsterdam, what a strange and amazing feeling. I was supposed to directly go to the Hague to arrange my visum for India, however  the car decided to stop doing anything (except break) on the middle of the highway. Solving this took most of the day but at least we arrived on time for the weekly game of Football with my friends in het vondelpark (For me once every 5 years now). And how cool that was. Heck, Patsie, Wilson, Haiko, Boon, Kuip, Gosse, Dave, broertje van Babette,  thanks!!! And a double tanks for Willie who hosted Ela and me in his house for the night. What can I say I love my friends!!!!
So the next day an other attempt for an Indian visa. Initially this was a drama. I waited for 7 hours, mainly because i was so stupid to forget a specific document.  But because of this long waiting, the guy in charge felt really sorry for me and issued an urgent request, which meant i was able to pick up my visa the next day instead of a week later!!!!!
After Ela and I had a nice dinner at my parents and we kind of managed to catch-up,...sorry that it was so short, I drove to Slovenia with Ela and her parents. Despite only limited space, the 11 hours were easy compared to certain bus rides in Latin America.  The planning was to discover Slovenia and Croatia with Ela until we would leave for India. In the meantime Ela would try to find a job for when we would come back. But the job-search of Ela went so well that she could start working immediately at a law firm where she can, most-likely, return after our trip to india. 
So at the moment I am discovering Slovenia during the week by myself and in the weekend with Ela. In the meantime i have helped ela’s father with Ela’s kitchen and I try to do as much sports as possible, since that was the thing i missed most during the last months traveling. 
And of course my current opinion is heavily influenced by vacation mood but i think Slovenia is an amazing country. Cycling here is fabulous; beautiful, silent roads to climb by bicycle just a few km out of the capital. Impressive mountains to go up hiking everywhere in the country. Crystal clear lakes and rivers to swim in. And, as I am currently doing, many thermal springs to bath in . Historical villages spread out through the country. Delicious wine is being produced almost everywhere. And last but not least..the people. OK I found the best one in NL but the slovenians living in their home coutrny are also not bad :-)

 From Vondelpark voetbal to Euro2012 qualifying game Slovenia-Estonia. I was hoping to be able to have two favorite countries in POland/Ukraine next summer..but after the 1-2..chances are minimal for Slovenia to make it.

Ela being very busy looking for a job!

Only one week to go and then we go to India. The plan is not exactly clear but we will probably start hiking in the Himalaya. And after that.......who knows, probably we will write about that at a later moment.