The 2 Year Plan


Life is a series of events and moments over a period a lifetime. For many of us, should we be so lucky, that lifetime is one of decades upon decades. Much of those moments are nondescript and fairly ordinary. Same same. Then we have times of wonderment, thrill, adventure and awe. Moments of laughter, bliss, joy, excitement. Life is also peppered with times of inexplicable grief, despair, confusion, fear, and sadness. It’s the same with everyone. The ups, downs, and meandering along. Yet without all these varying experiences we can not grow, learn, appreciate and evolve. That is life. My travels are one of the main sources of joy and wonderment for me. Also one of learning about myself, and hopefully of the world and its beautiful people. My head swirls with places I have yet to know, far flung and world-wide. Being “grounded” here at home without a plan in place gnaws away at me, at the ever present desire to see new-to-me places. It grows and expands the wanderlust, the fernweh (“farsickness“). Yet, when at home I also crave security and order. An odd contrast for one who seeks to always leave. 

As some of you may know, this spring I had a hefty health scare and subsequent surgery. There was a period where I did not know if I had cancer or not. Fortunately I didn’t and have been given a clean bill of health. That time certainly has prompted much to stir within myself. Realizing how fortunate I am and that moving forward and living life is vital to me, however I choose to do that. Having dealt with this has prompted me to make better choices for myself. I am making wiser food choices (have disposed of 19 lbs to date) and investing in tapping into my creative side.  Of course travel continues to be part of my life.  Plans continue to swirl in my head. Destinations call to me at every turn. A different country pops into my mind every week or two. I still have no clue where I will travel next year as it changes continually. Though one trip is forming and coming together.

Since learning of it in 2007, it has always been part of my life plan to be a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James) in 2019 for a milestone birthday.  That was 10 years ago and the plan is still the same. Now, its in 2 years. The 2 year plan. The Camino, as its called for short, is a centuries old Christian pilgrimage from the east of northern Spain all the way to the northwestern city of Santiago (Galicia) where it is said the bones of St James are interred.  In modern times the pilgrimage grew less and less popular to almost being forgotten. Then in the 1980s there was a resurgence and slowly it has gained popularity. Today’s pilgrims have various reason’s for making the trek and not always religious ones, as in my case. For me, I want to be able to traverse the countryside. To walk alone and with others. To step one foot after another, not being entirely sure as to even why I want to other than that I do.

Despite being 2 years away I am working on some plans, financially and physically (though the latter is coming much slower). Researching here and there. Nagging my friend over at Wandering Dragon (blog) as her and I will be taking this adventure together. Up until now we have only talked of it but now I have set up a few things to get me moving and planning. As time gets closer we will decide which route, the exact day to leave, what to pack and all the rest. In the meantime I will continue to read and watch stories, documentaries and movies about the Camino. I’ll make an occasional post here too.

Oh, if you want to watch a (fictional) movie about the Camino, I quite liked The Way starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. There is also a documentary I watched recently called Strangers On The Earth which I also found interesting.

Photo taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World.

I took these photos in Dublin in 2016. My sister and her 2 friends were walking the Northern Route of the Camino that summer. I learned that this was the historic spot for pilgrims in Ireland to head out to the Camino. The growing popularity of the Camino has led to the organization of the Camino Society Ireland where people can learn of the Camino, attend events, obtain a Camino passport and more.

20160529_120439837_iOS

A Camino sign, Dublin

20160529_120405084_iOS

The Camino Society  Ireland 

Advertisements

Sunday Special – Iceland


One of the hottest countries to visit these days is actually rather cool. Iceland is possibly one of the most popular European destinations right about now. It certainly is on my list. After seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller I was awed by the scenery the film showcased about this small northern European island nation. Then seeing photos several friends had posted on social media it has quickly moved up my bucket list.

The landscape has been described as rough, rugged and barren yet holds a beauty all its own. Mountainous volcanoes, sheets of glacial ice, lava fields and geothermal waters can all be found here. And it is said the warmest of all are Iceland’s people, which I suspect is true. Along with nature one can expect great food, amazing music (Of Monsters and Men hail from Iceland!), art,  and literature. When I go here I hope to see much of the country, perhaps even by car so that I can wander about at my leisure.  Here are some ideas.

  • Route 1 – Ring Road – The main highway that links the country together spans 1,330km / 830 miles. A road trip of epic scenery. Do prepare for any road trips and plan accordingly.
  • Northern Lights – Iceland’s location on the planet makes it a fitting place to see the night skies dance with colour. September to April are the best times for viewing.
  • Geothermal Waters – Naturally heated spring waters are plentiful. Many places have created pools and spas where you can enjoy the hot waters in the crisp air. The Blue Lagoon; Myvatn Natural Baths; and Laugarvatn Fontana are a few.
  • Festivals – Every season brings festivals and events to celebrate music, art, sport, and food.
  • Creatures Big and Small – Iceland may be a small country yet there is bountiful wildlife. Arctic Foxes, Icelandic Horses (don’t call them ponies!), varied and beautiful bird populations, and of course whales swimming in the North Atlantic waters.
  • Natural Beauty – a land of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, caves, natural springs and geysers, and a rugged coastline I suspect this is how this island country wows most everyone.
Bigger Southern_Ring_Road_of_Iceland_-_2013.08_-_panoramio_(4) (1)

Iceland’s southern Ring Road – Photo via rheins, Southern Ring Road of Iceland – 2013.08 – panoramio (4)CC BY 3.0

 

Islenskir_hestar Icelandic horse

Icelandic Horses – Photo is Public Domain

 

 

 

Sunday Special – Dublin Mountains Way, Ireland


Exploring a region by foot can be one of the most worthwhile ways to see it. This is certainly not limited to strolling through city centres. Walking and hiking is an activity enjoyed by many, from easy hikes spanning a few hours to ones that are strenuous and require days to finish. The payoff is exercise, breathing in nature and some phenomenal views. 

Dublin Mountains Way, only a mere 8 km / 5 miles from Dublin was named one of the most scenic walks in the world by Barry Stone in his book 1001 Walks You Must Take Before You Die (2015)The 43 km / 26 mile trail winds from easterly Shankill through to Tallaght in the west. Although it is considered a moderate to difficult hike that can take anywhere from 1 – 3 days it has been divided into three sections that can be done at any pace.  The trail was completed and opened in 2009 by the Dublin Mountains Partnership (DMP) and they continue to maintain and upkeep the paths. Their website offers descriptions of the routes, downloadable .pdf maps as well as event listings, transit information and “Leave No Trace” material.  The DMP also have also set up mountain biking routes, assembled  bouldering sites, introduced wheelchair orienteering on way-marked trails and manage conservation and upkeep of the area. As with any activity, make sure you are prepared and let someone know where you are going. 

Ireland is a stunning country, arguably one of the world’s most beautiful. Why not see it’s beauty by roving and wandering along these paths?

The Scalp From Barnaslingan Hill

The Scalp (Barnaslingan) on the Dublin Mountains Way – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Joe King (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

hellfire_club_-_geograph-org-uk_-_273613

The Hell Fire Club along the Dublin Mountains Way – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by jasonrogers [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

My Top 5 Man-Made Sights


Last month I posted about My Top 5 Cities to Wander. This month my Top 5 is about man-made places or things. These places or works of art hold a special place in my memories, my heart, and bring a smile to my lips.

  1. Michelangelo’s Slave and Bound Slave, Louvre Museum (Paris) – I have never been more captivated by art than these two unfinished statues. They are complete by being incomplete. I do not know how Michelangelo did it but there is feeling, emotion in those statues. I have seen them three times and still my heart stops each time. 
  2. Eiffel Tower, Paris – Anyone who knows me, knows I love this building. It was among the first iconic buildings I had seen when I first visited Europe and has been imprinted on my heart ever since.  I have been to the top twice, once on my birthday where I drank sweet sweet champagne with my sister and friends.  If I had never seen Michelangelo’s Slaves this building would be number one.
  3. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur – The circular and geometric designs of its spires and the walkway them give them a unique look.  I learned of them shortly after they were built I had wanted to view them for myself ever since.  They did not disappoint. I think they are most beautiful lit up at night against the backdrop of the dark sky and city lights
  4. Taj Mahal, India – I had wanted to see the Taj Mahal since I was a child. For a short span of years I thought I may never see and tried to downplay its importance, that it could not be that spectacular.  Silliness really. Yet I did make it to Agra. A hot, humid and crowded experience that was all shed to the side when I finally saw the splendour of this magnificent building. It stands majestically and rightly so.
  5. Pagodas of Bagan, Myanmar – There are so many things I could put for number five. Yet the pagodas throughout Bagan are the first I think of. The entire area astounds me with the sheer amount of pagodas to be found. I loved wandering through the back roads on my scooter and viewing the beauty and importance of these buildings  to the people. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

 

10881892_10152451716931751_7799701800068538175_n

Michelangelo’s talent is breathtaking

IMG_7304

Gustave Eiffel’s treasure to Paris.

Petronas towers

Those brightly shining Petronas Twin Towers.

IMG_6794

The Taj Mahal, a labour of love.

pagoda

One of the numerous pagodas in Bagan