Travel

2020 – Thanks Covid-19…

2019 – Provence & Ardeche, France

2019 – Austrian Alps

2019 – Scotland

2019 – Thessaloniki, Greece (conference)

2018 – Mexico and Belize

2018 – New Orleans, US (conference)

2018 – Rome & Naples, Italy (conference)

2018 – Catalunya

2018 – Malta (conference)

2017 – Italy

2017 – Iceland

2017 – Peru

2016 – People’s Republic of China

2016 – Sultanate of Oman

The Sultanate of Oman… Why the hell would you go to a dusty place like Oman? Good question! We also never really thought of it, and then, scrolling through Google Maps while in preparation for a trip that we thought would go to Tanzania, we sort of bumped into it. Well, that’s not entirely true. A guy we met at a Greek dive center told us the year before that Oman was a place with excellent diving, so if we were ever to have a stopover in Dubai or something, we should go there… So I guess the seed was somehow planted already back then.

Anyway. Tanzania was too expensive for our budget at the time, but Oman was very very budget-friendly. We also read some excellent stories about wild camping in Oman. We love camping. Great. And the stories were true. Camping in Oman is excellent and possible pretty much anywhere you like. It’s not like most of the land has an owner anyway (well probably it has, but no obvious ones that would come after you and chase you off). Therefore, in most areas, we spent our nights in a tent. Except a nocturnal visit by an Arabian leopard (judging by the prints we found around our tent next morning) and two friendly but curious police men, we had a great and undisturbed time.

Reasons for going? Well. check the pictures below. Oman has a great history of international trade culture and the remnants of it are still visible along its coastline. Dhows, the traditional boats that used to (or perhaps still do?) sail to India and Persia for rice trade are still around in every tiny harbour (and the handmade woodwork looks very pretty). Oman is also a strategic position and through the ages, quite some impressive sandstone forts have been built. Very, very cool. Oman has beautiful canyons, vast stretches of dune deserts and mountains towering above it (with brilliant vistas!).

And let me repeat; they say that Oman has excellent diving…

We actually never got to experience it though. We waited until the end of our trip and around that time, the waves were too high. Dive whenever you can, because, like us, you might end up disappointed (although not really, Oman was sweet!!).

2015 – Bordeaux, France – Santiago de Compostella, Spain by bike (and a continuation into Portugal with some trains)

The year 2015 was a bit of a weird year. In February I flew to Kuala Lumpur in order to do an internship. Well that was a total fail (I wrote about this a bit elsewhere). Instead, I come back and end up at The Netherlands Institute of Ecology, doing an alternative internship. Heike found an alternative place at a consultancy firm that she really enjoyed. So here we were; both doing last-minute internships due to us cancelling our Malaysia plans. We initially expected to have no job or such after obtaining our MSc’s (especially me, as a biologist: not. a. chance.). We already had big plans. We would start biking South from home, with the end goal being Morocco. Guess what? The worst thing imaginable happened! Heike got offered a permanent job. I got offered a PhD. Bye bye bike plans…

Luckily, the conditions were better than I make it sound. My boss is pretty reasonable when it comes to holidays (I anyway do most of my own planning). Heike’s bosses are also pretty reasonable when it comes to holidays. Yay! We ‘demanded’ the full month of September and used it to bike through the North of Spain, following the ‘Camino Atlantico’ (basically the coastal ‘Camino de Santiago’). About 1200 kms of beautiful roads through hills, mountains and more hills, cycling along a very beautiful coast. It was beautiful, the food was great and temperatures in Northern Spain were much more reasonable than those in Greece the previous year (Greece in August does not need further explanation). Moreover, there was plenty of stuff to do all over the place (something that was not really the case in Greece). Anyway. This was a beautiful trip and I cannot wait to do the ‘inland’ Camino de Santiago. I have no clue where I left all the pictures I took, I can only find some horrible pictures that I took with my DSLR on the day we arrived (the other pictures were probably mostly phone or pocketcam pics). At least it shows we were there. Look at all these hiking people (crazy!). Be patient, they’ll appear some day.

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2014 – Bulgaria – Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia – Greece by bike

Early 2014 we decided that it was time to step up our game. Travel had always been fun, but most of the actual travel time we usually spent in a bus or train when we travelled overland. We felt pretty sad for missing out on everything in between our destinations… In Northern Thailand, we had rented some bicycles for a few day trips around rural areas and had an amazing time off the beaten tracks. We saw places where the locals went to have fun. More importantly, we did not see a single tourist. Although we only got a brief taste of bike travelling then, we were sold! So that’s how we found ourselves at an outdoor hike and bike expo in Amsterdam in March 2014. The goal? Proper bikes. We bought ourselves two Koga Randonneurs equipped with Ortlieb front and back panniers. The good thing about buying this sort of stuff at expos is that everyone wants to sell you stuff, so they better offer you a good deal. Our deal was great; 250 euro gift vouchers with each bike. Moreover, the Ortlieb bags had a 25% discount. We basically got the bags for free and had money left for speedometer, helmets and various other goodies. I’m Dutch, so I’m cheap. I love this kind of shit :).

So, with zero long-distance experience or practice (well we live in the Netherlands, so practice we do), we flew to Sofia, Bulgaria. From there, South, to Greece. West, to FYROM. Further South, zigzagging our way towards Athens, via the beautiful East coast. We had a wonderful time and after reaching Athens, we set up our tent near Anavyssos, where we spent a week diving for our Advanced Open Water course. A beautiful end to a beautiful trip.

So, was it bad having zero experience? I don’t think so. I think you train yourself as you go. Start slow with 50 km days or so and work towards longer trips (we usually like between 80 and 100 km a day, which allows for longer stops at pretty places along the way). If you’re considering doing something like this. Stop thinking and just do it. You will not regret it :D.

 

2013 – Scotland

Yeah. Scotland is beautiful and that’s about as much as I will say about it :).

 

2013 – Southeast Asia trip (Thailand – Malaysia – Thailand – Laos – Cambodia – Thailand)

This was our first “far” trip, so to speak. Heike and I honestly never thought of going to Southeast Asia, at least, initially. We just wanted to go for four months and within our budget. Before booking, we actually wanted to go to Costa Rica, or sub-Saharan Africa. Asia wasn’t even on our radar. But we were students and only had a few months to save up for our trip. We ended up going where it was cheap. We ended up flying to Bangkok. And sweet Jesus, how we fell in love?! The thick warm blanket of air that engulfed us when we stepped out of the plane. The smells. The people. The food. The food. The food. Asian countries, thus far without ANY exception, do not disappoint. On this trip we saw jungles and oceans full of wildlife, ancient temples and not so ancient temples showing wonderful cultural heritage, people of many ethnicities that were all so kind. The kind of places that you’d want to go back to… Hopefully soon!

 

2012 – Dublin, Ireland

On this short trip, we visited Bray Head and Dublin. For us, Dublin didn’t really have it, with all the boozing youth and their Temple Bar. Perhaps it was also because of the way I felt at the time in general… I feel like we should give Ireland another chance, but probably by bike, as I really enjoyed the surroundings once we were outside Dublin.

 

2012 – Krakow, Poland

Krakow was a pretty nice city, which I visited with some friends. We met some pretty insane people that were pretty entertaining. Some wonderful architecture and pretty good places to go for a drink in the Jewish Quarter.

2012 – Riga, Latvia

I literally booked this flight because it was the cheapest I could find. But Riga is a pretty sweet city. On one hand, you get beautiful architecture, other hand, the highest concentration of beggers I have ever seen anywhere. People that seemingly sawed their limbs off and kept their wounds open to get more money. I’m not completely sure how they did it, but this was such an often-seen thing here, I could hardly believe it was true… Anyway, still a beautiful place :).

2012- Gran Canaria, Canary Island, Spain

A quick escape from a cold winter. Nothing you would want to spend months, but Gran Canaria had some pretty places to visit. We should have just avoided the Playa del Ingles, but hey, this taught us the other side of travel. A side we don’t like so much (but apparently many people do).

2011 – Round trip Sweden and Norway

What was supposed to be just me, Heike, a car, a tent and nature, prematurely ended (but not really) halfway when we visited Heike’s parents on their holiday in Sweden. When her father and I headed out on a fishing trip, we got into a car accident, which totally wrecked the car… We decided then and there to end our round trip, leave our (well, their second) vehicle with them, and return home (but two weeks later) by plane.

What can I say, two weeks of cruising Norway was amazing. Two weeks of fishing and cooking on fire in Sweden were also amazing. Scandinavia. Is. Amazing. And I look like a (not so little) little boy in these pictures. Damn.

2011 – Barcelona

You know, there are plenty of reasons to go to Barcelona. From what I remember, seven years ago I loved it. I took plenty of pictures of Gaudi’s designs, but I hardly remember anything else. Sorry.

2010 – The French Alps

Heike and I have been together since early 2010. We have traveled together from the start and our first ‘real’ trip was a trip to the French Alps. It was clear that I was looking at her more than at the surroundings, as I have hardly any pictures of this trip. The most memorable thing was our trip up the first part of the Mt. Blanc. We visited one of the bigger glaciers on mainland Europe, ‘Les Bossons’ and went up and up until we reached about 3200m altitude and ended up more or less inside a cloud of very bad weather. It felt like we were running down… The following rain pretty much flooded our tent and as we (back then) had only fairly basic equipent (ALDI tent yeah!), it sort of prematurely ended our trip. We moved North, to better weather (which also was of short duration). Nevertheless, the trip ignited a shared love for the outdoors that never left :).

2010 – Field course ‘Flora and Fauna of the Eastern Pyrenees’, Southern France

Sometimes, you don’t have a choice. You just have to travel. This was definitely true here. In 2010, I took a mandatory (I know, terrible, right) field course in which we got to study animals and plants in a terribly beautiful part of the world; the Pyrenees mountain range. It is still one of the most beautiful places I have visited and I think the pictures speak for themselves.