Monday, 24 September 2012

Iceland: a different planet down to Earth


extremely old lava formation (300 years old), 34 active volcanoes, the largest glacier of Europe (Vatnajökull), violent gushes of hot water directly from the centre of the earth, mix it all together, and you´ll get Iceland.

Landscape on Reykjavik's volcano

Thorsmork and the Trolls
 A land of extreme contrasts where painters, photographers, or visual artists in general, might go completely out of their minds. I can guarantee you :þ
Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Skogafoss rainbowed waterfalls :-)

You´ll go through forgotten gravel roads, crossing rivers (hold your breath), watching giant lava pinnacles sticking out of deep blue sea, herds of (many black) sheep and Icelandic horses dotting the emerald green hills, icebergs floating on a lagoon, boiling hot springs, geysers erupting 3 mt high hot water fountains, and amazing wooden cottages. Nurturing the eye, the mind, and mostly the desire to enjoy untouched nature stretches.

Waterfall's spray effect! The water does not touch the ground!

This snap reveals why Vik is by far my favourite spot on Iceland.

Lava beach at Vik

This what I have seen and experienced in a 13-day trip around the island with Stefi and Norman.
Meeting a lot of interesting people on the way, among whom a lot of Germans... For a moment I thought I stepped on the wrong plane. But after a while I could also spot some travellers of other nationalities and bashful locals.

These two guys discouraged 7 sturdy tourists from going all the way up to Skaftafell waterfalls.
No joking: learn how to make eye contact with rams before you trespass their territory.

Vatnajökull glacier

Expedition on Vatnajökull with a local mountain guide

Throughout the 4,000 km we ate up on the way, we have seen a different natural landscapes that changed every 5 km, possibly resembling any country you might have visited before: New Zealand, USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Alaska. Or if you have been lucky enough the Moon, or Mars!

It is pretty difficult to estimate distance on Iceland as something like a mountain or a volcano that looks very close, can instead be several kilometres away.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Driving off Dettifoss -Myvatn-

It is funny how every stretch could look like something you have already seen, but it is in fact totally different as Iceland parted from the main continent some 20 million years ago, and was in the beginning uninhabited. Then the Vikings from Norway decided to settle. Funny thing: they talk about settlers because, allegedly the island was only inhabited by fauna not by human beings. So technically the Vikings were no colonisers...

The locals descend from Irish and Norse Vikings who started settling on the Iceland and people´s surnames are actually patronymics ending in son and dóttir.

Hallgrímskirkju -Reykjavik-

People on Iceland are friendly and helpful, I guess because the weather makes life difficult, and some human touch is necessary sometimes.

As a vegetarian, I cannot really say much about local food, as it consists mainly of stews, and dried or rotten fish.
Junk food rifles here, but I cannot remember a single McDonald's. And now I know why. Junk food can help you save money, (but not your liver) as it is the only cheap food you can find around. If you dare...

A modern alternative to Icelandic snacks
 All in all this 13 day trip has been a lot more surprising than what I thought. Iceland can really make you feel at peace with nature which can be rough as well as extremely generous.

The finishing touch of the holiday was the sudden green-lighted sky on the last night at Reykjavik. The phenomena known as northern lights, or polar lights is simply stunning.

These great shots are by Stefi.

Takk Fyrir Ísland! :)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Wat Phra Doi Suthep -Chiang Mai-

first and probably last update from amazing Thailand! The land of smile indeed and of genuine kindness.
I am now at my last beach stop before taking off again to Europe. Of course I don't fancy coming back AT ALL!!
Except for the fact that all you dears are there, back home. Even if I am questioning myself about the meaning of the word home.
Maybe this one? Bungalow at Mama's Ko Chang -Ranong-

Anyway, enough about philosophical retrothinking this country is just great. Even if there are a lot if farang, way too many in the main tourist attractions like khaolak, where you could only hear German speakers. Did not really like that, as a traveller I enjoy more the local culture than the imported one, but It is a fact that tourism takes over anything. When taking a bamboo canoe tour in the middle of the jungle, at least I thought so, I saw two ladies getting into the riverto provide the thirsty tourists with a chang, singh or coke. I could not believe my eyes...
Tourism can make wonders even bring solar panels to the little ko chang, not the tourist one, and provide a few hours of artificial light to the many bungalows scattered on the island.
I have visited just a couple of islands, and I have to say that Similan are by far the best, and the closest to our notion of paradise. Especially for divers. The islands part of a stunning marine national park, are open only 6 months a year.
Similan Islands Island no 4

Next to these my favourite bit of this holiday was Chiang Mai. Where I manage to meet some two friends from A'dam, the craziest classmates at tmc massage school (Laura thanx for the hint!) and some original buddy travellers :))
Some of my classmates at TMC level I Chiang Mai

So after leaving this little paradise I will make the last stop to crazy Bangkok, pay a visit to the JJ market and jump on the plane.
One thing is for sure: I will come back here to do some other massage courses, padi certification, and volounteer in the elephant national park close to chiang mai, a place where elephant are treated with the respect they deserve.

Meet the family:

That's all for now from this heaven.


Monday, 16 January 2012

No al mostro galleggiante

È un po' di tempo che medito sul fatto di attualizzare questo pesonalissimo spazio narrativo (se così lo si vuole chiamare). Ogni giorno mi vengono in mente diversi argomenti da affrontare e il tempo per farlo non lo trovo mai. Oggi mi sono detta che avrei scritto, poco, ma avrei scritto.
Ed eccomi qua.

Nonostante abbia spesso a che fare con le navi da crociere italiane, sono profondamente contraria a questo tipo di vacanza:

1- l'impronta di carbonio di questi mostri è vergognosamente alta. Ergo: le navi al loro passaggio nei mari lasciano una scia altamente tossica, radioattiva e via dicendo che lèvati... Fosse per me andrebbero bandite.

2- Ignoro profondamente quali siano le ragioni che spingono le persone a voler desiderare una vacanza su un mostro galleggiante assieme ad altre 4.200 persone!
Ma la tanto agognata fantasia di una vacanza su un'isola deserta dov'è andata a finire??
Al solo pensiero di dovermi sottoporre (uso questo verbo con cognizione di causa) a un continuo bombardamento di attività, per così dire allettanti, che vanno dalle escursioni, ai giochi di gruppo, al semplice fatto di doversi sedere ogni volta vicino a vacanzieri differenti per socializzare. Quando invece sarebbe bello farlo nel quotidiano, in metropolitana o sull'autobus o in ascensore. Invece di vestire gli abiti del vacanziere ipocrita e fare il socievole a tutti i costi.

3- Il mio status è visibile a tutti: perché la posizione della mia cabina dice in realtà, quanto ho pagato. Della serie facciamo qualcosa di diverso: portiamoci il sistema classista anche in vacanza, altrimenti rischiamo di perdere la nostra identità.
4- Perché mai dovrei andare in vacanza con altre 4.200 persone di cui un buon 75% mainstream che ha pochissimi argomenti se non quelli della cronaca rosa del momento?
Giuro che la prima volta che mi sono trovata davanti a una crocerista di sesso femminile sono inorridita. Era quella che poi ho catalogato come il troione da crociera. Di solito corrisponde una ultracinquantenne rifatta, con una scialuppa di salvataggio al posto delle labbra, una chioma biondo-barbie altamente riflettente, una scollatura ombelicale adornata di catene e catenelle che farebbero invidia al rapper più incallito e una dizione, con rispetto parlando, che compete soltanto con quella di Francesco Totti.

A una soluzione di massa come questa preferirei una più minimalista: una gitarella nelle calette di Lampedusa, magari sulla barchetta dei pescatori locali. Cercando di andare alla scoperta dei luoghi nei quali ci si trova, rispettandoli e senza imporre i propri costumi e le proprie abitudini.

Carbon footprint: zero!