Sardinia – June 28th

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Ever since I read the what activities we were going to do on our holiday this was my favorite one! I loved the walking down the hill, I absolutely enjoyed myself during the water sports. I was sure that I would love the boat trip and I always enjoy cultural trips so Friday would also be no problem for me. But I was looking forward to this day the most. The mountain bike trip!

I don’t know if I ever talked about this on my blog – I honestly don’t think so – but I have my own mountain bike. I’ve had it for a couple of years now and I love it. I really enjoy going out on my bike into the woods and just feeling the ground under your wheels. The cracking and crunching sound that branches and stones make underneath your wheels, I love it. It’s so relaxing.

So the chance to do this in another country in different circumstances and of course a different environment really appealed to me. I couldn’t wait to get on that bike and get going. We had to get up at seven in the morning … scratch that we had to be at breakfast at seven. So we could leave on time and get back before the day was getting too hot.

I think that I was ready to go at six this particular morning, but I guess I was the only one. So I spend some time reading a book in the hammock, while I waited for the others to go and get some breakfast. At seven thirty breakfast was done and I was completely hyped up. We received our bikes  – which were of really good quality, we all got a 29er mountain bike with all the good stuff on it. I myself have a 26 inch bike (which refers to the wheel size), and I always wanted to try out a 29er. Especially because they say that these bikes have better grip, are easier to ride because they can take obstacles with more ease and they in general are less prone to flipping you over the steering wheel. They ride smoother, it’s easier to get out of sand and it rolls through rough terrain easier. I was ready to experience all of that and more.

So we all got on our bike and got ready to ride off. They told us that it was going to be a  thirty five kilometer ride with a stop at the halfway point. This was supposed to be a beginner ride but honestly if this was supposed to be for beginners I really don’t want to see what they call an advanced ride. It was tough! I’m not going to lie about it, it really was.

Picture this, the Netherlands are flat … really flat except for the very south where I’m from and even then nothing close to the hills and mountains of Sardinia. If you have higher and steeper climbs, you’ll also have tougher descents. And that made it all a lot tougher add to that the fact that it was 36 degrees outside and you can do the math. In my group we had a couple of people who’d never been on a mountain bike. As well as a couple who have a cycling bike but I was the only one with any experience on a mountain bike. Anyway our group varied from absolute beginners to slightly more advanced riders. And we had it tough but one of the beginners wasn’t able to keep up with the pace. Besides that she really didn’t like the mountain biking, she was afraid and I can understand that. It’s certainly not for everyone. We all knew that there would be a point at seven kilometers where we could decide if we wanted to go back or continue. She decided that she’d had enough. I think that it’s a good thing that you try something even if you’re doubtful that you’ll like it and even continue on when you’re afraid. She really broke some boundaries, set herself up to try something new. I would never see that as failure, merely as growth. I applaud her, she tried it and it wasn’t her thing there is no shame in that.

After the seven kilometer mark we knew that we had about ten kilometer to the halfway point what we did so far wasn’t really challenging and I was looking forward to getting on with the tougher stuff. Most of us were ready for it. As soon as we left we got some pretty steep climbs ahead of us and now I was the one struggling. I was feeling so confident literally minutes before and when that climb came I knew that I wasn’t going to make it all the way up. Especially because I got stuck in a track which was too sandy. Most of the other people in my group had experience in cycling – they are used to riding fast while I do the mountain biking thing at my own pace because usually I’m on my own when I ride my bike. I was really struggling to keep up but I couldn’t, nevertheless I was enjoying myself tremendously. Most of the ride I was the last person in the line. But I didn’t care. I decided that I was going to enjoy this, no matter what and I was not going to allow myself to be pushed over my own  I wasn’t afraid and I could easily handle the trail we followed. So that sure wasn’t the problem. Once the two men who guided us convinced themselves of the fact that I wasn’t afraid, they gave me the room to ride at my own pace and catch up with the others at certain points. Which was great, I loved it even more when I was riding down the track on my own. It’s what I do at home, what I’m used to. I was glad though when we reached the half way point. It was time to eat and drink something since it was so warm and we’d been so active.

The stop at the halfway point was a beautiful small place, hidden between the trees. It was one of those places where you would have walked or driven past if you didn’t know it was there. Simply beautiful and a perfect place to take a break.

After the break we continued our path through some small rivers, where we definitely had to get of our bikes. We had about seventeen kilometers to go after the break and little by little the terrain changed. From the hills we slowly but steadily made our way back towards the sea and ever closer to our end point the camping side.

The afternoon was for relaxation. I needed it! I’m gonna be honest here, I was really tired and I decided along with most of the other bikers that the swimming pool would be our place to retreat. Besides that I had my massage that same afternoon, there really couldn’t have been a better moment for a full body massage!

While we were at the swimming pool in the afternoon there was a bushfire at the beach and some people who decided to go to the beach were send back. All afternoon we could hear the planes over our camp side while they made their way from the sea in front of our camping to the beach which was in a small bay. Luckily the fire wasn’t too bad and besides us no one seemed really worried. Apparently bush fires happen in Sardinia all of the time. Especially in a dry summer like this, from what we heard it didn’t rain one drop since March. So the drought was at this point as bad as it usually would be in mid August and it was only the end of June!

 

Sardinia – June 27th

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Tuesday was my day off.

Half of our group was going on their mountain bike trip while the other half – including me was going to have to wait another day. We could fill this day with activities, go to the beach and take another go at the water sport activities or we could just choose to enjoy the sun.

People in Sardinia apparently don’t use ATM machines as often as we are used to using them because it was quite difficult to get money. Of course we could have gotten extra cash at the airport but I’m not used to having a lot of cash with me. I prefer to get some more when ever I need it. And I was not the only one, so we took a bus to another town where we could find the nearest ATM machine. So tip for next time, take more cash money … you’ll need it!

Unfortunately the town was small and not very interesting and long before lunch we were done with it and we couldn’t wait for the bus to pick us up and bring us back to the camping site. It was extremely hot, even in the morning and in the town the heat seemed to be even worse. So we were really happy to get back to the camp side where we could cool off in the shade. We decided to spend the afternoon at the swimming pool under the trees in the shade instead. All in all Tuesday was a really relaxed day, we didn’t do all that much. But it was nice after a couple of really active days.

Sardinia – June 26th

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The second vacation day we explored the possibilities of different water sports!

Our large group was divided into two because it would be easier to keep track of everyone and help whenever we needed it. I was in the group that started with the windsurfing. I can tell you one thing for certain, it looks so easy but that is so deceiving. It’s so much harder than it looks!

The main problem for me is balance. I do yoga! I should probably be ashamed, but I have pretty poor balance – I know this, I’m aware. And this became more and more obvious during the morning. I tried to get up on the board but I was really struggling. One problem was also that my left knee was hurting, from the walk we had the day before. Since we were walking down the mountain, you’re constantly holding yourself back and my knee doesn’t like that. It wasn’t hurting too bad but I knew that we still had some walking and of course mountain biking to do during the rest of the week. And I certainly didn’t want to overdo it and put myself on the bench.

During the instructions they told us that we had to basically kneel down on the board. Then put your left foot on the board and when you’re steady you had to use your left leg to push your weight up and put your right foot on the board. And that was my problem, I couldn’t keep doing that. I thought that it was a real shame, because I had a lot of fun. But I couldn’t give it my all.

In the afternoon – after we went back to the camping side for lunch – we switched groups and that meant that we could try out some things on our own. Like stand up paddling – another one of those balance things! It’s still very hard to balance one a huge beginner board. But it was fun to try. Most of the time on the paddle board was spend on my knees instead of actually standing up. The second thing we could try on our own was the kano’s. Which is pretty easy to get the hang of if you ask me. And it’s fun to do! But with the burning sun above us staying too long in the kano could easily give you some nasty sunburn. So even though I liked it a lot I didn’t do it for too long.

But the best thing about this day was a trip on a catamaran. It was a small catamaran for three or four persons. We went on the catamaran in groups of two with one instructor. It was awesome! I really like it. You’re flying over the water at a pretty fast pace and our instructor really took us far our into the sea while the other two instructor barely left the bay. At one point we had a really hard time seeing the other catamarans!

We all came back bruised but we had so much fun! It was awesome to see that some people went from never being on a surf board in the first place to actually being able to do some windsurfing. I personally wasn’t all that good at it. But I blame my left knee which after our walk from the 1000 meter high mountain wasn’t playing nice.

Sardinia – June 25th

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The first real day of our vacation started early, really early. We were awoken by a sound I’d never heard before. At first I thought that what I heard were crickets – but according to some people they were beetle like insects which were high up in the trees surrounding our tents and to be honest the whole camping-side. They are called Cicadas, and they were definitively a wake-up call. But then again we had to be up and ready for breakfast at seven in the morning anyway.

Due to the heat most of our activities were planned early in the morning so that we could enjoy either the swimming pool or the sea in the afternoon. After breakfast which was fast but good we were ushered into a couple of vans and cars and brought to the top of a 1000 meter high mountain. This was the first time we could actually see the surrounding area that we were staying in for the next week. In my opinion it was breathtaking. The mountains were high and ridged and the sea was incredibly blue. The contrast between the blue sky, the gray stone tops of the mountains, the green vegetation and the amazing azure blue of the sea was simply perfect. The view from the top was spectacular! We could see – according to our guide – one fifth of Sardinia.

We started making our way down. According to our guide we had three hours to reach the village where we would be picked up. When you’re standing on top of the mountain looking down you think that they are crazy. But in all honesty it was actually quite simple. We made it faster than we’d expected especially given the warmth. Of course our guides have experience, but we sure didn’t have any. We were told to bring water, lots of water because of the heat and that surely was needed. One minute we would walk in the blazing sun and the next we would walk into a tree overgrown part of the road and the could feel the temperature plummet. Most of the way was downhill with only a few parts where the road would go uphill.

During the walk our guide Sandra told us all kinds of different information, about plants, herbs and fruit we could find along the way. It was interesting and as we were walking down the hill there was also plenty of time to get to know one another. I switched a lot, sometimes I would walk along with the group in the front then switch to the back and that way I was able to talk to a lot of different people in our group.

We made it to the village with time to spare, luckily for us the point where they would pick us up was in the shade, with plenty of room to take a seat and cold crystal clear drink water. Which by now was what we all needed. Not so much water in general but cold water. Because the water we brought with us had started to heat up as soon as we left the camp-side.

Once we arrived back at the camp-side it was almost time for our lunch. This was our first regular meal – since the early breakfast had been in the bar area – I can’t remember exactly what our first meal was but it surely was pasta of some kind, salad and bread. Like every other lunch – don’t get me wrong the food was good, it was healthy, delicious and nutritious, just what we needed on our active vacation. Most of us had decided to go to the next town over in the afternoon because we all wanted to see the sea, enjoy the sun and cool down in the water. We had a blast!

Sunday evening we had a wine-tasting planned with five different local wines and some local delicacies. We didn’t have to think long when they asked us if we were interested, fifteen of us immediately said yes. the daily Happy Hour from seven till eight and then we would have dinner from eight to nine! So yes, lots of alcohol before dinner always a good combination. We had a very, very funny first night!

Sardinia – June 24th

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So there I was June 24th had arrived, I was planning on going to Schiphol by train, since I’m very familiar with the Dutch railway company I knew that I had to calculate extra time. So I planned on leaving at 11 in the morning, best case scenario I would arrive at Schiphol just about one in the afternoon. I wanted to have some time to get something to eat before meeting with the other people who would join me.

In my two hour train journey I needed to change trains four times, which can be a hassle with a big backpack on your bag and a smaller one in your hands. But I managed to do it and I made it to every single one of my connections with time to spare. When I finally  arrived at Schiphol I was getting a little bit nervous. I was glad that I had some extra time, I made sure that I got something to eat and to walk around a bit in an effort to stay busy and calm my nerves.

As I was approaching the white and red cubes I heard someone say; ‘Hey, I recognize that face!’. As I looked up I saw a group of four or five people smiling at me and indeed I  also recognized one of the faces. We both had our picture up on the fora. So that was my first meeting with part of the group and over the next hour more and more people joined us. And every time some one new came to the group you could see that everyone was listening to the names and trying to remember them. We were standing together a little bit awkward, but I guess that is to be expected when you’ve just met about sixteen people. Around three it was time to hand in our bags and go through security towards our gate. Once we reached the waiting area we had our real first time to get to know one another a little bit better. Unfortunately most of us were spread out through the plane and the next time to talk to one another was in the bus a couple of hours later after we landed. Due to a delay we arrived by bus at the camping sight around nine thirty in the evening. A meal was waiting for us and we received some last minute information and we met our last couple of group members who had arrived with an earlier flight.

After our meal we were informed that we would receive the keys to our tents and that we would have to be up at seven in the morning for our breakfast. We wanted an active vacation and we were surely going to get it!

All in all it had been a long day and I think that everyone was really done for. So I dropped my bags off in my tent and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. The next morning would start early enough, after all.

Sardinia, Italy

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What can I say, I did it and it literally was the best choice I could have made for myself. It took me a while, I admit that but once I finally made the choice I was content with it. Early this year and in all honesty this past year as well I wanted to go on a vacation. I knew for certain that I didn’t want to go alone. But who can you ask if the friends you get along with best have a family or are in a relationship and you don’t want to feel like that third wheel.

Someone started talking about single group vacations and in all honesty I was not really a fan of the idea. But as I started researching it I figured out that the ‘single’ part doesn’t really apply to the fact that you are single but more that you are booking the trip on your own. There are quite a lot of different travel agencies that offer single vacations but not all of them really gave me a good feeling. Not that they aren’t good, they just didn’t feel like a good match for me. Some were obviously meant for religious people or the age for certain vacations was a lot higher than I am. At first I was looking for specific destinations. Ever since I’ve visited Barcelona I want to go back there, I feel like there is so much more to discover for me there. But the only group vacation I could find which included Barcelona was with a group of people who were a lot older than I am. And that didn’t feel right. I also saw a trip to Morocco which really appealed to me from a cultural aspect. My reason for not booking this trip was the fact that we would go from one place to the next, on a ten day trip we would on some days visit two or three places and the only place were we really spend more than one day would be Marrakech. In my opinion you’d need an extra relax vacation after this one! Besides the fact that this would be my first trip abroad alone it felt like it would be too stressful to be relaxing.

Another aspect that felt important to me was the fact that I wanted my vacation to be an active one, preferably one where we have a day planning. Because I know that it would make it less likely that I could shy away from interacting with a group if I was doing different things together with them.

For a while I checked out Croatia as a travel destination but the trip was 14 day long roundtrip to different destinations and for a first time that felt like an incredibly long time. Maybe an idea for next year, who knows.

Eventually I found the website singlereizen.nl, which offers all kinds of different trips. Once I read through the information of the Sardinia trip I was sold. It was exactly what I wanted. It gave me an active yet relaxing vacation, besides that we would all get our own tent at the camping we’d be staying at which was a privacy I was looking for. With some of these travels they put two people in a room together which could turn out great but could also be weird and uncomfortable. Especially since you have no choice in the matter. The things that really appealed to me was the fact that most days we had a schedule of activities and some spare time as well. Every day we could participate in a yoga lesson – in the morning a wake-up yoga and in the afternoon a regular yoga lesson. We would have a day were we would go out to the beach and try out different water sports and one day we would go mountain biking! That one really got to me, it seemed like such a cool thing to ride along the beach on a bike and venture up into the hills. I knew that this was the trip for me. At the end of may I booked the trip and while I initially saw it through singlereizen.nl. I was forwarded to nosun.nl which is the travel agency that actually offers the trip.

When I signed up at the end of May (I was fairly late if you asked me) I was the eight person to actually sign up and I thought to myself good it’s a fairly small group and at the same time the trip was already guaranteed to take place. Once I booked and paid for the trip I have to admit that I didn’t really check the information anymore. So I was very surprised that there was a list of seventeen people who’d were going along. A couple of days later I gained access to the fora on which we could post information and ask questions.There it turned out that some more people were added to our group. Some because their initial choice for a trip was cancelled due to a lack of participants. We started posting on the fora, getting to know each other a little bit but it was all fairly basic stuff – you know name, age, where you’re from and what your occupation is. And some people asked some questions about stuff to bring and the likes. And then someone posted a ‘Let’s meet at the airport’ post. If he hadn’t posted it, I would have done it myself. Plans were quickly made.

On Saturday the 24th of June we would meet at the big red and white cubes in the arrivals hall of Schiphol at or about two in the afternoon and at three we would start our first part of the journey to baggage drop-off and the gate.

Want to read more? Don’t worry I am going to give you a full and detailed very picture heavy day by day report.

 

May in hindsight

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It’s hot and it’s cold, May has been going two ways the whole month. One minute it was cold and we were still wearing our down coats and the next minute we were walking outside with our T-shirts and sunglasses on. The same was happening in my life, one minute I was running hard to keep up and then everything came to a halt and there was time to spare. It was a strange month but all in all time flew by. We’re already nearing the half year mark of 2017. It’s so hard to believe!

City trips

I’ve been working a lot of overtime this past month, even worked on some days when we were officially free due to a national holiday and on a Saturday. Which is not usually a work day for me. I didn’t get to make any trips, the weather wasn’t all that good this past month, it was quite cold. And with work I didn’t have the time. Besides looking ahead to my upcoming vacation I knew that I needed money for that so I’ve been saving up some money whenever I could. So no trips this past month, but I’m sure that I will make up for it next month. 😉

Reading and writing

So I’ve been reading the second book in the When Women Were Warriors series, and as soon as I finish this book I’ll dive straight into the third and final part of the story. The other book I’ve been reading is a travel guide. I need to know some information before I start my journey. I’m so looking forward to my trip.

I honestly haven’t really been writing much lately. For some reason the need to write is gone, there has been a time in my life where writing felt like breathing, something that I needed to do. But nowadays that need is gone. And I feel like I can’t force it. So I’m not going to force it. I’m at peace with it, for now.

Looking ahead:

  • Hanson, Hanson, Hanson!!! Twenty five years of Hanson being a band, twenty years of me being a fan!
  • I booked my vacation, I’m going to Sadinia! An eight day trip! I’m so excited.
  • I’m thinking about going to a festival, I still have to purchase the ticket but it’s a chance to see Beth Hart. I love her and it has been quite a while since I’ve last seen her perform. Which reminds me I should really rewrite an restore some of my concert reviews! (long overdue)
  • The grafitti festival is coming up, so I’ll probably go there.