Some buds and I went to Tofino BC, which is – dare I say – the surf capital of Canada!
We hiked, we surfed, we drank beers, but we mostly surfed, and I captured some footage from the sky of the beauty that is Vancouver Island.
Some buds and I went to Tofino BC, which is – dare I say – the surf capital of Canada!
We hiked, we surfed, we drank beers, but we mostly surfed, and I captured some footage from the sky of the beauty that is Vancouver Island.
In July, 2018, we spent a few weeks driving around Scotland, and during that time, had a chance to visit the Isle of Skye. We camped near the fairy pools, wandered around the epic Neist point, were entranced by the fairy glen, said hello to the Old Man of Storr, and hiked through the Quirang.
Here is a video compilation of our epic road trip about this most beautiful place.
Music: Line of Sight (Reprise) [Instrumental] by ODESZA
What to read next: Three Days in the Isle of Skye
Our time on the Isle of Skye were unforgettable. The island boasts epic walks, beautiful views, and some of the most spectacular coastline I’ve ever seen. It is easy to get around too, so you don’t need too much time to see a lot of it. That being said, I could have stayed another week, driving, discovering, and wild camping in magnificent spots.
Want to watch another video? Check out The Ultimate Slovenia Itinerary
San Pancho, the perfect little village, situated just north of Sayulita, about 45 minutes from PVR. Here, you will find a beautiful, swimmable beach, a small surf break, artisanal shops selling handmade goods, and most importantly, delicious food. We spent a week here, and I collected the names of our favourite places; the places with the best deals, the best food, and the best people. Here is what to eat in San Pancho:
Ok, I don’t actually know if this is the name of this place, but that’s what their shirts say. Here you will find the Mexican City classic, pork meat slow roasted on a spit. There is a pineapple on the top of the spit that drips down as the meat cooks. The meat is expertly shaved with a giant machete, and piled onto a fresh corn tortilla. Make sure to order “con piña” for a couple slices of pineapple on top. You decorate your own tacos with a variety of sauces ranging from creamy avocado sauce to ‘sweat through your cheeks’ habanero sauce. This street spot is always busy, so be patient and be sure to snag a seat at the picnic table if one becomes available.
Want a good deal? Look no further. Con Amor has a nice, little menu with delicious tacos, beautiful quesadillas, and great prices! They are next door to a grocery store where you can buy beer and drink it at your table. And who doesn’t like dinner and a show? The local minstrel always comes by Con Amor to serenade the patio with his renditions of Queen, David Bowie, and Pink Floyd.
This family owned restaurant is closer to the beach, and has a lovely little outdoor seating area. The food is a little more expensive than the al pastor place, but this is where we satisfied our craving for aguachiles. Big, fresh prawns are drowned in a bowl full of lime and chile. The citrus cooks the prawns, and the chile adds just enough bite. At Limbo, the aquachiles is served with tostadas, and salsas on the side. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Actually though. This restaurant didn’t appear to have a sign out front, so I’m actually not sure what it’s called. BUT, it is kiddy-corner to the ATM, Cajero Banorte. They are only open during the day, but they don’t serve breakfast. The Mexicana torta will change your life. A sandwich on fresh bread, with cooked sausage, ham, bacon, beef, and onions, drizzled with homemade sauces, diced tomatoes, and jalapeño. We ordered one each, then looked around and noticed that every local sitting at this place was eating a Mexican torta. Seriously, best. Sandwich. Ever.
People will tell you for the best tacos in town, go to Los Arbolitos. They aren’t entirely wrong (I mean the al pastor tacos around the corner are the best tacos in town), if you are looking for chicken, beef, or mushrooms. The frijoles at Los Arbolitos are next level, and the best part is that they are sitting out on the table with all the sauces, so you can take as many as you want! I had half a mind to bring a Tupperware and just fill it up to take home… I refrained. The beer is a good price at Los Arbolitos too, so you won’t break the bank.
Looking for a fancy AF cocktail? Look no further than TuTu. This is a nightclub, I think the only one in San Pancho, but we never saw it busy because our bedtime was too early for such activities. We sat outside at one of the two tables, and ordered fancy mezcal and passionfruit cocktails. The glass was rimmed with tamarind and the paper straw was wrapped in a tamarind candy – Mexico, where even the candy is spicy. Here, you won’t find much food, but if you’re feeling a bit boujee, and want a very photogenic drink, this is the place for you.
What would a cool, small, hippy surf town be without an artisanal craft brewery?! Cerveceria Artesenal drew our attention one evening when a band was set up outside, and sitting at the tables were the coolest people I’ve ever seen. The beer selection is great! IPAs, blondes, and ambers. Good ol’ craft breweries. You can order snacks food bites too, if a liquid dinner isn’t your thing.
To read about our epic road trip, and see the stops on our Slovenia itinerary, click here and check out this post!
Check out my fave places in Slovenia:
The perfect day in Lake Bled
A Wine Tasting in Brda Wine Country
Spending the day in Ljubljana
We arrived at the Berg Lake Trail parking lot and joined the group of eager hikers gathered around the information desk. After a quick safety briefing, we watched a quick video, and then went outside to the big deck behind the building. There, standing at 3,954m (12,972ft), scraping the sky, was Mt. Robson. There was not a cloud in sight — a rarity for the area — and Robson looked as mighty as ever with a bluebird sky surrounding it. We jumped back in the truck and drove down the road to the trailhead.
From the trailhead to the first campsite, and our first snack stop, at Kinney lake, is 7km. The trail is wide and well traveled by both hikers and mountain bikers. Michael had the idea to cheat a bit. We could mountain bike the first 7km, save ourselves some time, then lock the bikes at Kinney and continue on foot! I wouldn’t necessarily call it cheating — I heaved my 50 pound backpack up and onto my back, adjusted my helmet as best I could so the top of my pack wouldn’t keep knocking it over my eyes, and took my seat on a mountain bike for the very first time. It was hard; hard to keep balance with a heavy pack, hard to bike up hill with the weight, hard to go downhill without feeling like I’d fly over the handlebars. But of all the pain I was feeling in my back, my lungs, my legs, my wrists, it was my butt that hurt the most. We finally arrived at Kinney and locked our bikes next to the others on the bike rack, and my butt and I were relieved. (Read about the time we took bicycles around Tuscany!)
We stopped next to the lake for a quick snack, and then continued the hike up to our next snack stop, Whitehorn campground. The climb up was tough. There were stretches that were just straight uphill for what seemed like an hour! My layers came off and I wore just a t-shirt and hiking pants. We hiked through deciduous forest and the fall colours were just spectacular. The blue sky, the orange leaves, the brown of the trail, it really was autumn at it’s best. At Whitehorn, we sat down by the river, pumped some fresh water into our bottles with the filter, and chowed down on some nuts and berries.
Whitehorn is where a lot of people decide to spend their first night. Those people are sensible. We are not sensible people. Today we are hiking all the way to Berg Lake. We continued through forest and came to the bottom of a hill. Michael said, “this is where the real climb begins.” WHAT?! We had already biked and climbed 11km and 300m, and now the climb begins? Yes, because Berg Lake is another 11km and 700m up. See? Not so sensible.
I don’t have to go into detail. The climb was hard, I was sweaty, the end. We stopped by Emperor Falls on our way up. The falls were not as full as they are in the spring, with all the run off, but from where we sat, with the falls booming in front of us, and Robson standing high above, it was a pretty epic snack spot. (Read about another epic climb we did to the tallest mountain in Slovenia!)
We arrived at our campground, Marmot, where we would stay for the evening. We went down to Berg Lake and pumped some more water into our bottles. There, across the water, was the giant, and utterly bewildering, Berg Glacier. We were pumping glacial water into our bottles. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! The glacier rumbled and groaned. Tremendous cracks, like thunder, echoed across the lake and through the valley. I stood on the shore of the lake, unable to move my legs, and felt my chest vibrate with the sound. Whoa.
We set up our perfect little tent, inflated our Thermarests and air pillows (I know, boujee), and began making dinner. Tonight we enjoyed Indian food! Lentil curry over rice. Nothing beats a hot meal after 22km of hiking.
I slept well, considering the colossal cracking of the glacier continued through the night. This morning, we would cook some breakfast couscous. I prepared the mix at home by combining couscous, with cinnamon and sugar, and some dried fruit and nuts. I felt pretty fancy! But, like an idiot, I forgot to write down the ratio of couscous to water, so this morning we had to guess. After our breakfast of sweet couscous soup, we enjoyed tea and coffee down by the water. The bluebird, cloudless sky from yesterday, was now covered by a thick layer of clouds. The top of Robson hid behind them, and the glacier disappeared into the cover. After our lovely, lazy morning, we continued onto our next camp spot, at Adolphus Lake only 7km away.
We walked through forest, across gravel flats, through a swampy field, and yelled “HEY BEAR” the whole way. I love a good wildlife sighting, but I just wasn’t keen to cross paths with a bear today. We arrived at the campsite and set up our home. The whole reason we came to Adolphus lake, is so we could cross the provincial border back into Alberta, where, under the Jasper Parks rule, we could build a campfire. We went on a mini adventure around the lake, and on the way back to the camp, collected a bunch of firewood.
This evening, we had the place to ourselves. We built a big, beautiful fire and set up a couple of logs around it so we had a table and two chairs. We played dice! I kicked Michael’s ass. My achilles tendons were starting to fatigue after our long day yesterday. I took off my boots, held my feet to the fire, and massaged my calves a bit. The sun went down and we climbed into bed. Once our headlamps were off, it was pitch black. There was not a sound around us. Now this is private.
When, I woke up this morning, and looked up to see the fly of the tent pushing on the inside walls. I put my hand up to push it off, and a HUGE layer of snow slid off the roof of our tent. I zipped open the door and stuck my head outside. Greeting me this morning was a thick, fluffy blanket of snow, coating the ground, hanging from the trees, covering our tent. It was still snowing. The magical flakes floating down were big and fluffy, and landed on the ground without a sound.
Our breakfast couscous was much less soupy this morning. We packed up some snacks in our little daypacks, hauled our food up into the bear hang, put our big backpacks in the tent, and left for an adventure! My achilles tendons were so tight as we started walking. I popped an Advil — extra strength — and hoped it would numb the pain.
We hiked back to the BC side of the valley, and took a left towards Snowbird pass. The climb was difficult and my achilles were giving me such a difficult time. Then I had the thought, “they are ‘achilling’ me,” and I laughed. The clouds continued to move, and before we knew it, the valley was socked in. Our day trip to Snowbird ended with lunch just below the cloud line. We still had an epic view from our snack spot, looking out over the Snowbird glacier and down the whole valley from where we came. On the hike back down we saw mountain goats! They sat, high up on a sheer rock face, just hanging out, escaping the wind. Now that’s the kind of wildlife sighting I like — from afar!
We continued our walk back to camp. On the way was a huge, dead tree, laying next to the path, with so many perfectly dry branches for a fire, so we began collecting some. I was able to balance a bunch of wood on my daypack, and Michael took a few armfuls. Here, I thought we were only a few hundred metres from camp. Turned out, we were over a kilometre away. I trudged through the mud and snow with an enormous bundle of wood, laughing at our premature firewood collecting.
We arrived back at our tent and met Andrea and Phillip, two folks from Edmonton who are on the last night of their eight day trek along the North Boundary Trail. They confessed we were the second couple they had seen on their entire journey, but it wasn’t hard to know; they couldn’t stop talking, telling us stories of what they had seen, the rivers they crossed, the meals they ate, the wildlife they ran into, the sunsets and sunrises they enjoyed. I was happy to be the first to hear it all!
Both Andrea and Philip, and Michael and I were enjoying our last night in the backcountry. My favourite thing about the last night of a big hiking trip is eating ALL THE FOOD you have left. We had such a feast — noodles, Indian food, miso soup, chocolate — and enjoyed the gigantic fire we built with all that wood. The snow began to fall, the wind picked up, and when the sun went down, we retired to our tents.
We were up early this morning. Not as early as Andrea and Phillip, but early for us. I climbed out of the tent, and went to the bear hang to retrieve our food, then, I set up the stove and began cooking while Michael packed up our camp. Today the breakfast couscous was perfect. TOTALLY perfect! We enjoyed our breakfast and warm drinks under the skirt of a huge fir tree, staying out of the snow for as long as we could before hiking through it.
The path was covered in snow, thankfully, we could follow Andrea and Phillip’s footsteps to stay on the trail. My achilles are absolute hell today. I popped another few pills and tried my best to hike through the pain. We were only a few metres from the border of Alberta and BC, and across the path were fresh bear tracks. The tracks were on top of Andrea and Phillip’s, and oh, so perfectly clear. For me, this is the ultimate bear sighting.
We walked all the way to Berg Lake, where we stopped for a quick snack, and then continued on all the way to Whitehorn. Here, we stopped, took out the stove, and cooked up our last pack of noodles for lunch. A couple sat nearby and we chatted with them. They had also just come from a multi-day camping trip to Berg Lake. They looked to be in their 60s! I hope to continue to be as active as I age.
Finally, we arrived at Kinney Lake, and never did I ever think I’d be so happy to see that damn mountain bike again. The ride down was much easier than the ride up; my pack was lighter and much smaller, and I had the greatest motivator of all — desperation to get off this dang mountain! We flew down the hill, passing other hikers as we went. And then, lo and behold, passed Andrea and Phillip! Ok, now I understand why the bikes feel like cheating.
When we arrived at the truck, my face was speckled with mud, my achilles tendons were tight as can be, my shoulders were raw, my lungs exhausted, and the biggest, goofiest smile plastered across my face.
We boated to Halik, a dive site Emma and I had not visited, just as the sun was setting. The water was calm, the air was warm, and the sky entertained us with bright pinks and oranges as the sun disappeared behind the horizon. By the time we arrived to the sight, the sun was gone, and the sky was dark. We had already completed the taxonomy dive, and the photography dive (where the photos in this post are from), and this was the third dive in our Advanced Dive course, the night dive. Emma and I were beside ourselves with excitement!
We set up our BCs, did our buddy checks, each chose a flashlight, and did our backwards roll off the side of the boat, into the water. Our descent was eerie, with only our flashlights illuminating our surroundings. We were told to point the lights down, so we could see where we were going. We reached our diving depth and I looked around; it was pitch black. Without the flashlights, you’d have absolutely no idea where you were in regards to the ocean bottom, or even the surface!
We each carried our own flashlight, six in total, and the lights brought the coral to life. Some divers couldn’t contain their excitement and flung their lights all over the place. I held up the rear, and scanned my light slowly and steadily over the reef below so I wouldn’t miss anything. Big sea slugs, a colossal sea cucumber, a blue and yellow moray eel, a huge lobster, even a sea turtle hanging out in a little cavern. We were instructed to not shine our lights on the sea life for too long, as to not blind them and lower their defences.
Up ahead, I saw our dive instructor’s light waving excitedly up into the open water. I looked up to where his torch was shining, and there was a shark! A nurse shark with white tips on its fin, maybe two metres long, swam over the reef, and as quickly as it arrived, disappeared into the black water. COOL! We continued along the reef. With my light in front, illuminating the way, I looked behind me into the total pitch blackness. Whoa. The ocean is a big place. Who knows what’s out there? I brought my light around to look behind me and illuminate the black. There, following curiously behind the group, a few metres away, the nurse shark! I jumped and screamed into my mask! I was startled. Being followed by a shark would do that to anyone!
We settled down on a huge field of broken torches and our instructor had us turn our torches off. I deflated my BC completely and came to rest on my stomach. Emma effortlessly came down to rest next to me. All the lights were out, and you couldn’t see a darn thing — not even your own hand in front of your face! Then, next to me a burst of colour and light. Our instructor waved his hand in front of us, and tiny phosphorescent organisms illuminated the field. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. We waved our hands, kicked our legs, and were enthralled by the explosions of light. I lay on my back to look up at my flippers, kicking up the colours. I laughed, and a big bubble came out of my mask. The air moved quick enough that it stirred the water. I breathed out again, colour and light, sparkles and magic. I was euphoric. Tears filled my eyes as I kicked and danced in the water, surrounding myself with the splendour.
We arrived back at the boat, I passed my BC up to the team aboard, and climbed up to the deck. I lay down on the roof of the boat, next to Emma, staring up at a sky chalk-full of stars, and cried.
When we drove into Slovenia, I really had no idea what to expect. Before we arrived, I had to look up “best places to go in Slovenia” and I only found the beautiful blue Soča river and the quaint little capital city, Ljubljana. Turns out, there are SO MANY other things to do in Slovenia! We began our ten day road trip in Triglav National Park, named for the highest mountain in the country, Triglav. The national park boasts beautiful mountain peaks, stunning mountain valleys, and all the beauty that goes along with such a landscape. Here, you will find hiking, climbing, epic waterfalls, and of course, the intensely blue and crystal clear Soča river!
There is so much to see and do in Slovenia, I made a list to help narrow it down, make it easier to plan, and inspire a little wanderlust! Here is the ultimate itinerary for a road trip through Slovenia:
Among the best places to go in Slovenia, Bovec, I would say, is the capital of extreme activities, and the best place to begin adventures in the Soča river valley. There are so many companies in Bovec offering white water rafting, caving, canyoning, paragliding, and zip-lining excursions. We opted for a white water rafting trip with the company based out of a hostel, Hostel Soča Rocks*. Here, we found a white water rafting trip at a very reasonable €41, and the company runs the trip twice a day, so there is plenty of room and availability!
*I am not in any way affiliated with this tour company
With so many mountains, and clear, natural springs around every corner, it is not hard to find a waterfall. As you leave Bovec, south on the 203, you will see signs for Slap Boka (in Slovenian, the word for waterfall is ‘slap’). You can park on the side of the road, and take a quick 30 minute walk up through a forest, to the lookout point. The view might take your breath away!
Next, continue your drive along the 203, through the quaint village of Zaga and Sprenica, and take the exit for Kobarid. Here, you will cross over Napolean’s bridge, a beautiful, and super Instagrammable bridge, and find parking for Slap Kozjak. A 45 minute walk through yet another, beautiful forest, will bring you to the very cool lookout point of the waterfall in a cave!
Pro Tip: One of the best things to do in Slovenia is any time you see a sign that says ‘slap’ just pull over and check it out!
Through the town of Tolmin, past the fields, and up into the mountain valley, you will find the Tolmin gorge. Entry is €5, and well worth it. The boardwalk takes you along the river, and then turned into steps up along the cliffs. We had beautiful views, both from down next to the water’s edge, and from high above the river. The water is crystal clear, and the rocks are covered in moss and lush, green, leafy plants. It’s really something else.
After the gorge, head down across the river to the restaurant Labrca. Here, you can enjoy a Slovenian beer – it’s a must on the list of things to do in Slovenia! There are two major breweries in Slovenia, Laško and Union. They are very similar, but Laško is a bit stronger. When deciding which one to drink, we were told to think of how many you want. If you are just going to enjoy 1 or 2 beers, choose Laško. If you want to drink 3 or more, choose Union. Your body will thank you in the morning.
I bet you didn’t know Slovenia has a beautiful wine country! This is a surprise on the list of things to do in Slovenia! The Brda countryside is home to remarkable wines, and delectable cherries. In Dobrovo, you will find Klet Brda, the largest winery in Slovenia. You can do a self-led wine tasting for €12, and have a chance to taste ten of their wines! Read a story about this, the best wine tasting ever, here!
From Dobrovo to Ljubljana, the drive is about an hour and a half. There is no doubt, that this little capital city is among the best places to go in Slovenia. There is so much to see and do in Ljubljana, but of course, the best way to start your day in any city, is with a free walking tour! To read about my favourite things to do with only a day in Ljubljana, here!
Yes, Lake Bled is touristy. Yes, you will spend your time there walking next to large groups of other travellers from all over the world. Yes, there is a casino on the waterfront. But, you know what? There is a reason it is so busy, and that reason is because it is so spectacularly beautiful, and easily one of the best places to go in Slovenia. Any place that is so touristy is a bit more expensive, but I was successful in remaining a cheapskate while I was there. Read about our perfect day in Bled here!
One of the top things to do in Slovenia, according to the Prime Minister of Slovenia himself, is to climb the highest mountain in the country, Triglav. He has said that it is the duty of every Slovenian to complete the hike and reach the summit. With an altitude of 2863m, the trip requires two or three days (one if you are a seasoned trail runner), with an evening spent in one of the mountain refuge huts! There are a number of trails you can take up to the summit, some are easier than others, some are more scenic with better views, but all lead to the same place: the top! Read about how I got to the top of Triglav here!
Only a 45 minute drive away from Bled is the much quieter Lake Bohinj, less touristy, but still one of the best places to go in Slovenia. Here, you will find a much more wild lake, with way less people. There is a walking trail around the perimeter of the lake, and unlike Lake Bled, there will be very few people on it with you. You can also visit the waterfalls in the area, go up the Vogel gondola, or rent a canoe and paddle around the lake (In Ukanc, at the campground, you can rent a canoe for only €9 an hour!).
You’re going to Berlin? That’s fantastic! Berlin is definitely one of the coolest capital cities in Europe. It’s also kind of like another world. Anything goes in Berlin and you can be anyone you want. There is so much to do in Berlin, I had trouble keeping the list down to just ten. Use this as your Berlin travel guide, here are ten things to do!
I am not sick of writing it, I am not sick of doing it, free walking tours are the best things to do in Berlin and in any city! SANDEMAN’s New Europe free walking tours are some of the best free walking tours I have ever done (and I proudly say this with no compensation from the company). The tour guides are so well informed about the history of the city, and so clearly love this place, it is hard not to fall in love yourself. They work on tips, so you decide how much the tour was worth at the end.
Cost: €5-€10, but you tip whatever you feel!
When the Berlin wall came down in 1989, a lot of the wall was removed, but there are still a few places where the wall still stands. The East Side Gallery is a part of the wall that has become a huge gallery for street art. Each piece tells a story. Some are funny and use bright colours, others are more solemn and serious. Every piece is beautiful, and is really one of the most Instagrammable places in Berlin.
As far as memorials go, this has to be one of the most incredible. Spanning an entire city block, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in an immersive monument which encourages people to walk through it. The stones are different heights, the ground is uneven, and as you walk into the middle, the sounds of the city disappear. All of a sudden, you’re alone and it’s silent. It’s beautiful and solemn. It is a place of contemplation and warning. As an added bonus, check out the museum underneath and do the audio guided tour. It’s beautifully done.
Cost: Free! (The audioguide in the museum does cost a few euros)
You may not find this in any other Berlin travel guide….. In the middle of Grünewald Forest, is a man-made hill called Teufelsberg, created from rubble and debris moved from Berlin after World War II. The Americans used the Radomes -weatherproof enclosures that protects a radar antenna – atop the hill as listening stations during the Cold War. When the Berlin wall fell, the equipment was removed, but the Radomes and buildings remained. It’s now what I believe is a squatter’s paradise, and is open to the public! Read the full story about my day at Teufelsberg here!
Cost: €8 to enter and to wander about.
If it’s a sunny day and a Sunday, Mauerpark is the perfect place to go. The flea market sells everything from jewellery to vintage clothes, antique furniture to beautiful art. Around every corner is someone playing music. We saw a group playing funky brass music, we found an African drum circle, a moody solo autoharp player, and even a DJ with a set up out of his van. Starting around 3pm, in the Bearpit, a huge amphitheatre, a man named Joe hosts Bearpit Karaoke! Here, people have the chance to volunteer to sing their fave song in front of the crowd. Read a story about when I did Bearpit Karaoke here!
Cost: €2-€5. Joe works by donation!
Berlin is known for its clubbing and techno scene where the party doesn’t stop until Monday morning…and even then. If you’re looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, head out on the town and prepare yourself for a wild night. Berlin is also home to one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, Berghain. Exclusive because not everyone gets in, and nobody knows why! Read a story about how Michael and I got into Berghain here!
Cost: It depends on the club and their cost of cover… Hopefully it’s under €10
You’ve heard “go to Berlin, eat a currywurst!” and yes, sure, eat a currywurst in Berlin. It’s really just a hot dog in ketchup with curry powder sprinkled on top. They’re ok, but not my fave. The REAL treat and best thing to do in Berlin is the döner kebab. Freshly sliced meat from the rotisserie stuffed into freshly warmed bread, layered with sauce and vegetables, and all for the very reasonable cost of €3-€4 (don’t pay more than that)!
On the top of the list of things to do in Berlin, is drink your beer anywhere: the parks, the sidewalk, even the train (although technically not on the S-Bahn). The word ‘wegbier’ literally translates to ‘away beer’. Basically, it’s a beer you take to go. You can drink anywhere and beer is cheaper than water! Head to the closest Späti (the store in which you buy a wegbier), find a Berliner or take a Gösser Radler, and grab a bottle from the back — it will be the coldest. Then, do as the Berliners do, and drink anywhere!
Cost: €1.80 for a Berliner
Scattered around the city are photo booths, known as Photoautomats. Here, for only €2, you and your friends can pose for four photos that are printed into a beautiful photo strip. Some of the cameras shoot in colour, some are B&W, some will be busier than others with lines leading up to them, some will smell like pee, and might even have someone sleeping inside! No matter what, you will get a series of four beautiful photos that will make you laugh every time.
Cost: €2 per four photos
My fave is the Prater Biergarten. It’s in the middle of the city, and the whole place is just community-style seating. You can buy beers and classic German snacks like hotdogs and pretzels. How can you go wrong with a beer and a wurst on a sunny summer day?!
Cost: €2 for a beer, €2 for a dog!
The Isle of Skye is a beautiful and rugged island off the west coast of mainland Scotland. For many years, it was only accessible by ferry, but in 1992 a huge bridge was built that connects the island to the mainland. We filled the gas tank of our tiny blue rental car, and drove from Fort William to the bridge, and then over the sea to Skye. The Isle of Skye is chalk-full of spectacular and totally stunning natural phenomena and, what’s more, it’s not very big which makes it easy to get around!
We arrived on the island in the late afternoon, and drove straight to the Fairy Pools in the southwest part of the island. In the bottom of a big, wide, and very beautiful munro valley, a small river of water has cut through the ground. The water carved away at the rock and formed multiple waterfalls and swimmable pools. They are aptly named “The Fairy Pools” and truly, this is a spot where I imagine Fairies come to frolic and play when all the humans are gone. We arrived in the early evening, and while the sun was still out, we wandered down the path, and followed the water upstream to where the waterfalls were. The site wasn’t too busy, but I think it was due to the time of day. I imagine between noon and 5pm, this place is super busy with folks soaking up the magic. We sat by the water, and watched the sky change colours as the sunset. When the sun was gone, we walked back to the car.
In Scotland, one has the Right to Roam, which allows one to set up their tent and camp almost anywhere in the country for one or two nights. Our first night on Skye would be spent next to the pools. We found a lovely, foresty spot near the pools and set up our tent. There were a few little flying bugs around, but we weren’t too bothered by them. Then a few turned into a bajillion little flying bugs, and they began swarming and biting! Midges! The bane of any Isle of Skye camper’s existence. They are teensy little flies that swarm and bite and are maybe the most annoying thing one can come across. We escaped to the safety of our tent and prayed they would be gone in the morning. Here’s hoping!
After a quick peanut butter and apple breakfast (enjoyed while sitting in the car in an attempt to avoid the midges that clearly weren’t gone by morning), we visited the Fairy Pools again, how could we not? We walk up to the waterfalls and soaked in the magic before walking back to the car and hitting the road.
On the most western part of the island is the Neist Point lighthouse. Built over 100 years ago, the lighthouse sits on a terribly rugged and rocky cliff-top, and looks out over the beautiful coastline of Skye, and the causeway between it and the isles nearby. Talk about an epic view. We parked the car, said hello to the grazing cows nearby, and waked the few hundred metres to where the path starts. I couldn’t help but notice all the wild campers tearing down their sites from the night before. Now this would be an epic spot to wake up at! We came to the edge of the cliff and my jaw dropped. From where we stood, past the jagged and treacherous cliffs, we could see the lighthouse. Wow. We walked along the path that took us up to the top of the cliff nearby, and we sat up there for a while, speechless. We looked out over the deep blue water, scouring the surface for signs of whales or dolphins, but none graced us with their presence.
Back to the car, and back on the road. Our next stop? The Fairy Glen of Uig (pronounced ooo-ig), in the northeast of the island. We parked behind a few other cars stopped on the side of the road, and climbed the closest hill. The Fairy Glen is another mystical spot in Skye. Numerous hills pop up from the ground and create a rippling and rolling landscape. The hills, while not high, are surprisingly steep and very close together. At the top of a hill, we could look out and see the landscape, busy with other tourists wandering around the site. When we walked back down, we found ourselves in narrow dells (the small space between the hills), with nobody around. In one flat spot, we found a fairy spiral made out of rocks. This is how you greet the fairies! We found the outermost part of the spiral and entered the maze-like structure. We followed the path round and around, until we reached the very middle of the spiral. Here, is where you gift the fairies with something shiny or special, and make a wish! Piled in the middle were coins from all over the world, bracelets and rings, and perfect little seashells. I regretted leaving my wallet in the car, and put my hands in my jacket pockets, hoping to find something. Lo and behold, my fingers were happy to find the green rock with chunks of quartz I picked up from a river in Chur, Switzerland (haven’t worn this jacket in a while…)! I placed the rock on the pile and closed my eyes to make a wish. “Nice to meet you, fairies,” I thought.
We drove north on the highway, enjoying the rolling hills surrounding us. The highway took us through farm fields, and past quaint villages, until it spit us out right next to the water. We found a wee pullout with a picnic table and a super flat spot, perfect for a tent. We set up our camp, and boiled a cup of tea each. We sat, drinking our tea, looking out over the causeway and across to the Western Isles. Anywhere else in the world, a camp spot with a view like this would cost money, and you definitely wouldn’t be the only ones there. But there we were with the place to ourselves. We were happy with the view, but the best part was probably the slight breeze blowing in from the water. Slight breeze means no midges! It doesn’t get much better than this.
We woke up to the soothing sounds of the ocean. The slight breeze remained through the night and into this morning, which meant there were still no midges about. Woohoo! We jumped in the car and drove back south, back to Uig.
The Isle of Skye Brewery is a small and traditional brewery right in Uig. At the moment, they don’t offer tastings, but in the next year they hope to acquire the right licence, and begin offering tours that end with a tasting. We visited the shop and were given so much information about the tasting notes of each beer, I didn’t need to actually taste any before buying the ones I knew I would love. We bought the Black, the Blaven, the Red, and the Tarasgeir. We nestled them in the ice in the cooler in the boot of the car. We will save them for later!
We drove into the Quirang and parked the car. The main hike began right from the main carpark, and took us up into the hills. There wasn’t a single moment along the entire hike that the view stopped being stunning. We looked down the south coast of the isle, and when we turned the corner, could see the entire north coast. The rock formations along the trail are jagged and epic, and the view never gets old. The whole loop is about 7km and took us about three hours to complete.
Our next stop was to another famous rock formation, the Old Man of Storr. We parked on the road and began the walk up. It was a short walk, but quite steep in some places, and with lots of loose rocks, we had to be careful of where we stepped. The site wasn’t too busy, because the weather wasn’t very nice, but I imagine this place is teeming with people when the sun is out. We reached the top, the perfect viewpoint of the rocks, and wow, it’s almost supernatural. The rocks were carved by glaciers melting, and look like they are precariously balanced on the side of a hill. It really is something else. Again, from up top, we could see the south east coast of Skye, and the other isle in the distance. What an amazing horizon!
We drove into Portree, the main settlement on the island, and found the public pool. Here, we paid a few pounds for a shower. There is nothing quite like a hot shower, and after living in a van for ten months, I can honestly say I will never get over it. After we were both squeaky clean, we took our tiny blue car to another perfect camping spot. We found a little road turn off and set up the tent right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. The sky threatened rain, so we set up the tarp from the car to the tent, and created a little dry spot between the two where we could cook dinner and enjoy our Isle of Skye Brewery beers!
Our three days and three nights on the Isle of Skye were unforgettable. It boasts epic walks, beautiful views, and some of the most spectacular coastline I’ve ever seen. It is easy to get around too, so you don’t need too much time to see a lot of it. That being said, I could have stayed another week, driving, discovering, and wild camping in magnificent spots.