Travel

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The Road Story Vietnam: A beautiful short film by Georgy Tarasov let’s us lean back and feel the wanderlust in our hearts. Being free like a bird, enjoying the beauty of nature and exploring life.

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When we decided to meet in Myanmar in the end of the year we did not know that this was going to happen for real. Three girls with the same fate brought together by accident.

Only ten days time tightened up our plans to explore the country known as the golden land. Being isolated about thirty years from the rest of the world this destination showed us the most friendly people, a not developed for tourism spot out in this world, delicious Shan Noodle and Shwe Gyi which we tried to test through the whole trip, a temple landscape more impressing than Angkor Wat, e-bikes that introduce the sustainable idea of tourism, floating gardens, one leg rower and much more.

Arriving in Yangong a warm welcome to Myanmar by our friend with garlicful currys and strong mochitos let us stay awake far too long before going on a 10 hour bus ride to Bagan the next morning.

What a beauty. What a mystic place on earth – Bagan.

Actually we wanted to go hiking in Kalaw. Due to the circumstances we did not make it. German coffee time at the Amara Mountain Resort made our afternoon. Going on a train ride through the country was suggested in our travel guide. As the train derailed before we even boarded we took a crazy bus ride with the locals instead.

Inle Lake the next stop of our trip we arrived to celebrate the light festival, watch the morning procession and finally relax at the pool.

Back to Yangon we explored the city and enjoyed the last days together. Goodbye summer.

 

 

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Beautiful Pai.

After a wonderful time in Lao we arrived to Thailand by land.

One day in Chiang Rai with banana breakfast and a visit at a temple.

A visit at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most famous Temple in the area, standing near the top of Mount Suthep to the north-west of the city of Chiang Mai. Here I got this white wristband from a monk.

In the streets of Chiang Mai we found this little delicious bakery. Staying in Asia for a longer time awakens the desire of real bread.

My travel fellow has a passion for great food and places to stay (and I love her for this characteristic). In Pai she found us the most amazing two floor bamboo house on a fish farm outside the city within the rice fields. As the place was actually closed but she somehow did manage to sneak us in the kitchen was officially closed but they had tea and bananas. Those bananas can not be described in taste but for sure those were the best ones in our whole lives. When not hanging around in our hammocks we were cruising with our scooters through the magical green hilly landscape. It felt a little like at the end of the world. Hippie heaven in the middle of nowhere. No not everything was delicious we tried at the food market notably the fresh coconut banana pancakes sold by an old lady made us come back.

Pai is located in the mountains north of Chiang Mai. One gets there by bus or mini van. Arriving that little paradise at night we did have a pretty nightmare getting back and had never felt that travel-sick. But the trip is definitely worth it.

Again in Chiang Mai we did board the night train to Bangkok for our flight to Myanmar and found ourselves in the children and women carriage.

 

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Ayurveda

When I was first taken to the Siddhalepa Spa by a friend in Colombo I did not expect more than a good massage and timeout from the busy city. But it was the very best massage I have ever had in my life.  Starting with a health check up by a doctor, being treated by professionally trained masseuses and checking out with a cup of tea in a clean and relaxing atmosphere.

The downstairs shop supplies Ayurvedic products like soaps, teas and much more.

In case you do not make it to Sri Lanka that often but are enthusiastic about Ayurveda treatments and products check out their website.

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As already mentioned in a previous post travel/muse is on the road again. And just before leaving for the next adventure it is time to share beautiful Southeast Asia memories with you. Starting off with amazing Lao.

From Berlin via Abu Dhabi and Bangkok I arrived pretty tired to Viantiane (Lao). Thus I knew about the need of the Visa I did not bring any Dollars for the Visa on arrival. Lucky me they also took Euro and the extra passport photo was not really an issue.

The only preparation for this new country was a visit at a lao restaurant in Neukölln about four years ago. But the time showed us Lao food is totally underestimated and we enjoyed the culinary adventure a lot. Traveling North with stops in Vang Vieng the former Mecca of Party in Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang the culinary and cultural hotspot, up the Mekong River by boat before going to the north of Thailand we explored many nice spots, met super friendly and animal loving people, slept in strange places and for sure had the best shower of our lives.

Have a look into Zoes’ little travel diary!

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First Lao breakfast: Omelette, rice soup, fruits & green tea. We did not count but for sure the egg consumption of the last few months was far too high.

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The natural border to Thailand.

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Lao is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita in history. The COPE Visitor Centre informs the visitors about the UXO problem in Lao PDR and the work undertaken by COPE and the CMR to provide disability services for people affected by UXOs. In a picturesque exhibition this sad affair is reviewed in a unique way and does show technical facts and catching fates. A must see in Vientiane, Lao.

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That is what we call a concept store these days. From the left: mini market, weaving company, hairdresser & workshop.

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Up in the mountains: Taking a van 180 kilometers north can easily last about nine hours. But we had a view…

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Temple under construction. As the holiday season had not started yet there were many construction works going on.

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Enjoying the view at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao in Luang Prabang.

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Instead of booking a tour we did rent bikes to find the native tribes in traditional clothes. We did not find them but had great fun and an even greater sunburn.

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On the Mekong River. Heading north on a two day trip to the Thai border. Brown waters, animals, greens and stops at little villages kept us entertained.

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Dancing in the shower on the top of our tree house 60metres up in the treetops. The Gibbon Experience let us fly through the jungle. For sure this was the best shower of our lives so far.

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Before leaving to Thailand we met those little beauties having a good time in the mud.

More travel stories and pictures of the other destinations in Southeast Asia will follow soon.

“It’s a festival. The whole point is to be drunk and obnoxious”

a friend told me after we returned from Gagnef Festival to the reality of urban Stockholm. Of course I felt the difference between the flush of the festival and the more settled / stable life (or whatever you may call that life) back in the city, too – but I had difficulties with this formulation.

What was the flush, the intoxication that I experienced at Gagnef Festival? It was not the fact that one could be drunk for three days in a row. No, it was definitely more. Much more. Trying to grasp the feeling I shared with other happy Gagnef visitors I can say that it was composed by a variety of different ingredients. First of all, hell yeah – we had stunning weather! It was non-stop sunshine (well of course at night the sun wasn’t burning on your sweaty skin anymore but to be honest it was “dark” for the maximum of 3 hours I would say). No rain drops, just beautiful sunshine which made it perfect bathing weather. The magic of the river and seriously the whole Swedish landscape of Dalarna in general makes the place where the Skankaloss Festival (just referred to as Gagnef festival as it is located in Gagnef) an enchanted place. Sure, through my German eyes there might always be a touch of Bullerby-Syndrom that paints the Swedish landscape in even prettier colours but for real: it is gorgeous in that area!
As most of Gagnef’s party guests come from the big cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö they can all experience the beautiful way by train or car to the festival where you see nothing but woods, fields, sparkling rivers, flowers, some midsummer poles and wooden horses. It has a touch of a summer camp where all the city kids can hang out in nature for a weekend and just let go of the day-to-day business.

The festival areal is a place not too small and not too big – with a million things to discover. One of the main stages in built in front of the river so you see the water dancing and sparkling behind the bands while you can dance on the stairs of a wooden amphitheater. The other stages are a hidden cave that was covered in pink smoke the first time I found it and a arena that feels like the ring of a circus where all the wild ponies are getting ready to show their most beautiful steps. In various places at the water where people can jump in the water or in the fields and bushes sit DJs and produce various kinds of music. Different artists, such as Stine Marie Jacobsen (who we also interviewed for SlashMuse Magazine) or Martin Olsson and Linn Granlund participated with inspiring art work and you can find a sauna as well as great food such as Oysters or Jamaican Cuisine, which makes the Skankaloss Festival a complete little cosmos.

If you want to take a break from the different kinds of music, from which Ryley Walker, Tami Tamaki and Zhala were clearly our highlights, you can participate in the Tennis tournament “Gagnef Open”, watch the long board competition or the skaters at the half pipe on the festival areal.

All these aspects make Gagnef such a magical place – it’s the holistic world that is created. People with weak nerves and a giant hangover should better not go to the long board competition as it simply takes your breath away every time they speed around the corner, a shy person will perhaps not enjoy the sauna as much as I can guarantee you to make new friends there who will convince you to jump naked on the big wooden swing that catapults you into the fresh cold river – but hej it’s only once a year and maybe the whole point of a festival is not to be drunk and obnoxious but just to be courageous and free. Gagnef is a great place for that! Our favorite Swedish Festival.

Das ist der Sound für die echten Männer
Die das hier hören wenn sie Pressluft hämmern
Für Nutten und Hausfrauen …
(K.I.Z./ Urlaub fürs Gehirn)

Imagine Lola dancing to these lyrics and you have a brief idea of us at Berlin Festival 2014….

The Berlin Festival is a part of the annual Berlin Music Week. Previously situated at the areal of the Tempelhofer Flughafen for the past few years the festival now moved to the Arena Park in Friedrichshain where locations like the Badeschiff/ Glashaus/ Club der Visionäre and White Trash Fast Food formed together the new festival areal. Additionally an Open Air Hip Hop stage was built up in front of White Trash Fast Food surrounded by different food and drink stands and an Art Village with a free hug stage/ a paint club/ a mini disco/ a market place and more.

Friday night –  truly a disappointment for us. The festival areal was not set up. People with matching wristbands seemed slightly lost on their way from one club to another. After the bar guy disclosed us he was a hooker and only costs 50 Euros we decided to spend some time in front of the restrooms – for the rest of the night. The way home in a shopping trolley might have been the most fun part of the evening/ morning.

Saturday started of with super sunny weather. Equipped with bikes and a backpack we started into day 2. The whole area had become one place. One entrance and one exit.
First enjoying Magda while lying in sun chairs at Badeschiff was a great start. Followed by the Crystal Fighters. BÄÄÄM. What a party – what a show. The Arena was sweating like hell. But in the end a little irritation. Due to the schedule seven more minutes to play: no encore, no show off again, they were just gone.
A little break brought us to a little park side close by. Just to tell how cool Berlin is: While lying in the grass suddenly a firefighter truck appears behind us through the trees. Silently rolling down to a container for barbecue leftovers. Six firefighter get of the truck, one flips his cigarette into the container before they extinguish the fire that had been smoking in there for quite a while. As fast as they appeared they are gone again.
Back at the festival we saw super cool Bombay Bicycle Club which we had to leave a little earlier to see HVOB who heated up the crowd in the already cooking Glashaus. Next up the Editors. A long day for us ended up with Zoot Woman and my very very euphoric happy company who took me to McDonalds and bought me a Happy Meal before we went to bed.

Good morning Sunday. If you think going to a day festival is less exhausting than a proper festival with camping you are wrong. A late breakfast and we made it to the festival ground by 2pm. Alle Farben playing at Badeschiff – a perfect Berlin end of summer feeling in the air. Sitting in front of the Hip Hop stage we watched that little cute boy at the turntables of the Beatgeeks. Father and son – what a adorable picture. German Hip Hop newcomer Ahzumjot made us leave for a late lunch while singing ‘Triff mich am Späti…’.
In the evening a tight program with amazing Woodkid, K.I.Z. and Moderat. K.I.Z. the only act who hardly tried to play as long they wanted to were ruled over by tight festival schedule, too. But in the end won one more real big fan that night. With the xth beer in our hands we rounded up the festival with Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumb.

It was a good weekend, great acts, a lot impressions and an euphoric atmosphere. Some may complain about the sound… but come on if you cannot have fun with friends, great weather and an amazing line up better stay at home and hide in your bed next year. Thanks!

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Watch out I am the one dancing on the treadmill on the way to the gate.

Every time I start traveling it is rather chaotic than organized and I am impressed with people that seem overly organized.

Just to give a few examples: The most important things to take with you are “the triple p”: passport/ phone/ purse. Once I was traveling to Sri Lanka - I did not take my purse. Fortunately the incident popped up to me while sitting at the gate and talking to my orthopedist on the phone….Well, my boyfriend had to come back and pass me some notes through the security area.

As usually not doing any check in in advance I often experience the most interesting seats on the aircraft. Next to a toilet – what a pleasure on a six hour flight. Also fun a nonstop screaming and swinging kid on the seat bouncing behind me. Defo a proof of the fact that I am so not ready to have one yet – what would I do with mine?! No chance to just put in earplugs and sleep with my knees squeezed to the seat in front of me. Hell why do they not put an additional row of seats in?! And the guy next to me, a small Asian guy, has his elbows on the arm rest and also does not know where his feet belong.

Well, to be not prepared for what will expect me at my next destination means freedom to me. Of course I would apply for a visa if it is an entry requirement and look for a place to stay the first night but everything else should be kept an adventure as long as possible. Even though I sometimes panic in a few moments and regret this unprepared trips I do not put any effort in improvement.

Packing luggage. Not my strength. But I am doing better these days. Before I used to just pack stuff with the idea “what do I need?”. Now I try to find things to combine with each other. But seriously in the end it always feels wrong and something is missing. I should talk to someone about it.

Suitcases with wheels. In my opinion the very best invention since traveling. You can just put as much as you like. After you got it down the stairs of your 5th floor apartment you will not feel the weight of it until you arrive back home. After my beloved grey Samsonite suitcase got lost somewhere between Istanbul and Mumbai a friend gave me an amazingly heavy and hard to close suitcase called the ‘Rocker Koffer’. This massive white monster did join us on a electro festival in England where we pulled it through the fields and people made jokes if we wanted to move in. But indeed we were surprised ourselves how much stuff fits into the belly of such a massive white monster. This year the ‘Rocker Koffer’ died on Fusion Festival (R.I.P. we will always love you).

This time I try out a backpack. Not convinced yet but waiting what time will bring…. I am off to Laos now!

 

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Today we saw the first fallen leaves. Fall has arrived. Time to begin our SlashMuse Festival Special to relive our summer:
// Part 1 // Fusion // Germany

 

 

“Far from everyday life we celebrate 4 days of parallel society of a special kind, looking for a possibly better world. We know, there’s always a ”but”. We also feel that there is no real place where all of this comes true.”

 

This is the mission formulated on Fusion Festival’s official website. To celebrate this “holiday communism” 60.000 music fans came together in the end of June and spent 4 days together on a former Russian military field two hours out of Berlin.

An enchanted huge field full of music of all styles, performance, vegetarian food, cinema and theater, tents and chill out areas builds a little country in a parallel universe. Like a country full of crazy people. Goa hippies, gym bag-Hipsters, glitter ravers and other fusionists. Between all the different areas where the crowd pounds in the moving beat of electronic tracks you find an old bus right in a little forest next to the dance floor of the Bachstelzen. This bus is a kiosk, selling glitter, lemonade, bubble gum and a smack in the face full of silver glitter particles!

 

Also, you can send mail from the Feldpost station or – when it starts raining – dance in a crazy little house that feels like a western saloon. When the pace of the track accelerates the dancing craziness is reunited in a choir of jubilance.

 

Our musical highlights were the intimate gig of the German-American Band Fenster and the great beats the Konstantin of Giegling offered us! Dancing Jellyfish and a desert full of carnivorous plants between mud puddles make four days of dancing a great spectacle. Everyone around me was lacking sleep but was full of love and developed a pack syndrome.

The last day was like a human garbage dump with different kind-hearted people offering to collect and recycle all kinds of drugs, sprayers leaving their mark until the next year, while you were sitting on the floor next to him eating scrambled eggs to warm your body after dancing in the rain. Like the end of a film, the end of the fusion seems sad and surreal but also very necessary. You wonder how everyone might get home and arrive back into reality – and then the bus driver with his Berliner Schnauze gives you a reality check and you leave the parallel universe.

Until next year.

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morning glow/ banana/ lime/ gras/ soda/ truck/ gardening/ fabric/ greens/ 3 sisters in Sri Lanka/ Kandy/ temple flowers/ botanical garden/ … Sri Lanka.

 

 

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spaghetti / bavette/ olio/ vino/ parmigiano/… – Bella Italia.

 

Whenever going to a another country I love to go for a stroll in local supermarkets.

But to be honest whenever one buys something on vacation does it really have the same taste arriving home. Do we actually use it? Once I bought lentils in India to cook Dal (an indian lentil dish which can be served as main or supplement). I stored the lentils for about  three years in the kitchen shelf (dry and hermetic packaged). When finally cooking them it happened that they stayed stone-hard for ever. Just to mention one example.

But shopping from Italian supermarkets turns out to be more successful for me. My favorite olive oil, a huge piece of Parmesan cheese, some bottles of this one red wine and Bavette No.13 (a flat spaghetti brand) always find the way home with me. And yes I use it regularly and it tastes as good as on vacation.

Of course due to globalization we can buy nearly everything from everywhere at home however the atmosphere cannot be compensated.

 

Photos taken at Hofer Market in Sterzing – Vipiteno. Yes for some this is not Italy but geographically it is.

 

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first day of spring/  होली/ Holi/ spring festival/ Hindu religious festival/ … – all over the world.

Welcome spring we were waiting for you!

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Saigon/ street food/ authentic decoration/ people – District Môt, Berlin.

 

Standing in front of the restaurant sets you into holiday mood. Entering this with love for the detail designed place feels like being in Saigon without a long distance flight. The food is authentic and delicious. The service nice and fast. They even have a little market stand to buy things and take them home.

Thanks to the friend of a friend who suggested us to try it out. We will come back and so should you!

 

District Môt

Rosenthaler Straße 62

10119 Berlin

 

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Temple/ film set/ children/ smiling people/ sun set/ stones/ cultural heritage/ Dollar – Angkor, Cambodia.

Both have been here, fighting in a overwhelming film set which is in fact an UNESCO cultural heritage. Walking through Angkor makes one hard to believe how people between 850 and 1200 AD build this place with its many many temples. The Angkor Ta Prohm Temple overgrown and looped by trees and Angkor Wat itself are only the most famous ones.

But besides the impressive Khmer Period there were cruel times in Cambodia which cannot be ignored. From 1975 to 1979 approximately 1.7 million people where killed by the Khmer Rouge Regime. Only four years in power the Regime is responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th century. Visible by todays population structure on the streets: young people, many children and babies, little elderly. But people are smiling, hoping and working for a better life.

Sitting on the top of a temple watching the sun go down makes the world stand still, at least for a moment.

 

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Noisy/ different/ breathtaking/ distracting/ amazing/ crazy – China.

Entering a Chinese street soup place at lunch time means an unbelievable noise of smacking, burping and spitting. And that’s only one example why it seems that you either love or hate China. I did not meet many foreign people who said their feeling about China is ‘so so’.

Eating is a major purpose in life of Chinese people. Ordering Chinese Food in Germany has nothing to do with real Chinese food. While we order ‘chicken sweet sour’ with rice people in China prefer to eat at a round table with many small dishes to share. Fancy dishes are 1000 year-old eggs, jellyfish salad or turtles. Not uncommon is that you can choose the animals still alive at the front of the restaurant. But they also have dumplings, noodle soups, delicious vegetable and meat dishes. About the rice; the more prosperous people are the less rice they eat. This can make it pretty difficult to survive a business dinner where one is offered the best of regional dishes. Asking for rice means the offered food is not good or not enough – whereby the host looses his face.

But despite the very different culture with its sometimes for foreigners strange seeming habits, there are many great sights which are worth visiting; the Great Wall, the forbidden city, the Hutongs in Beijing, the Terrakotta Armee of Xian, Shanghai a city that never sleeps, the Westlake in Hangzhou and the old town of Suzhou – just to name a few of them.

Furthermore there is a dazzling nightlife. The Chinese like to play and to be entertained. Many nightclubs are costly designed and decorated, there are separate tables to stand and sit on and a lot of dance performances. KTVs (karaoke places) you can find all over the country where people like to sing and drink.

Ever tried whiskey with iced tea or snake schnapps?

 

 

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Tel Aviv/ Jerusalem/ Wailing Wall/ beach/ Church of Nativity/ pilgrimage/ … – Israel.

Good morning Tel Aviv. Waking up with an wonderful view of the coast side, shopping at Azrieli HaShalom Center and a wonderful dinner with sea view. Hummus, fish, falafel, freshly baked bread and delicious chocolate cake for desert. Later that night cocktails at the beach. 11p.m. still 25°C end of november. 

An early wake up call the next day and on the road to Jerusalem. Passing ghettos, colonies built in Jerusalem stone, dry as well as cultivated landscapes. A tour at the Wailing Wall, a look at the Church of Nativity and a glance at the al-Aqsa-mosque. Nowhere else one might be closer to religious history and currentness of disputes.

Résumé for the last 48h: what a fascinating country between history, disputes and a new generation of people who want a change.

A bus, a tent, a very old analoge camera, two weeks time and four brave friends looking for the adventure of their summer.

 

Berlin/ Glashütte/ Wien/ Graz/ Piran/ Orsera/ Porec/ Rovinj/ Bale/ Outlook- Fort de la Punta/ Prematura/ Pula/ Plitvice Lakes National Park/ Linz/ Lochau/ Berlin, July-September 2013

 

Starting right after work we arrived late in Glashütte, a little town in Saxony traditionally known for its clock crafts. First critically eyeballed ending up in the only open bar – having beer with the locals.

Next day after a nine hour drive on the czech motorway we arrived to Vienna. Mission Viennese Schnitzel; as big as the plate, with potato salad on an extra plate and beer. Unfortunately it was raining.

Starting of with a desire of sun we stopped in Graz and stayed over night; climbed the castle hill and enjoyed the 360 degree sight over the city, went shopping in the old town with its little alleys and shops. Walked the bridge of the Murinsel by night and imagined the frightening power of the Mur.

Back on the road, music up, windows open, leaving Austria heading to the Slovenian coast. The seaside appearing in front of us- Italy on the right Croatia on the left. A stop in Piran to take a first fresh breeze of the sea and to buy kilos of Fleur de Sel (Piranske Soline) which is gotten from a near by Fleur de Sel plantation.

After leaving Slovenia, just passed 100 metres of nowhere, we entered Croatia. Not beeing prepared at all we were driving along the coastside. Already night time we got a space at a camping ground in Orsera and a fat thunderstorm on top. The next day brilliant sunshine, our tent up in the second row to the sea (many campers come to the same ground for decades- which made us unprepared just arrived birds of paradise to an attraction).

Based in Orsera we explored the urban hinterland. Porec is on the World Heritage List. In Rovinj we lost our hearts – what a beautiful town on a rock, a spiral road leads one to the top. In charming bars one can watch the sunset while having a drink. Bale – reported to be a artist town – was rosting during lunch time.

Time to move. The next camping ground emerged as Fort de la Punta which was hosting the OUTLOOK Festival 2013 at that weekend. Time to dance at that amazing breathtaking location. Pula the city with an well sustained amphitheatre is worth visiting.

In Prematura (a national park in the very south of Istrien) it was time to enjoy this unbelievable crystal clear water again. Swimming in the sea after getting up from a tent is the best morning exercise in the world.

Final stop in Croatia was the Plitvice Lakes National Park in the very west of the country. Lets do not talk about how and when we got there. Fact is we arrived at Branka’s Appartment House (Branka is an old slavic name and means armament- just for the few of us who had their doubts and expected a giant). Branka an unbelievable nice host (found on airbnb). At the Plitvice Lakes National Park the Winnetou movie was shot. An unbelievable natural spectacle with blue blue clear water.

Time to say goodbye. On our way back a stop in in Linz: expecting a perfection of Linzer Tortes. Not successful, learning effect – do not think in stereotypes.

Last stop of our trip a tiny village in the Upper Palatinate. Nothing to see, nothing to do but two weeks laundry.

Arriving in Berlin Saturday night, more than 3000 kilometres behind us we are still friends and willing to do it again.

 

The bus was us a great home.

The tent is bigger than expected and waterproof.

The very old analoge camera did not survive the trip. R.I.P.

Two weeks time are not enough to capture this delightful spot.

Four brave friends found the adventure of their summer.

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