For the reasons I told you about here, I decided to move to a different country, to Ireland in particular. I gave up my safe job, my great apartment in Vienna and the possibility to meet my family and friends without booking a flight.
Since this has been my dream for the last decade, I made it happen. It is tough to leave your loved ones behind, to restructure your life, to apply for new jobs and try to figure out a different countries bureaucracy. I thought I would be efficient. I thought I was prepared. I thought, I’ll be grand. To be honest, I am feeling great and have settled in well. But: there is obstacles to overcome, there is despair. There are times when I was annoyed and am Ende meines Lateins. Follow my story through my pictures here, plus take advantage of my moving-knowledge.
Five steps to think of while you’re packing your stuff
Organise yourself: who do you know living in the country? Who can help you in the first few weeks? What do you want to do in the first place – get a job or travel? Think about your insurances in your home country. Look into your bank account. Try to get an international, very cheap bank account. Which documents are you going to need in your new country?
Get rid off stuff: easily put, but so hard to actually do. I went through my wonderful books, my jewelry, all my clothes. I am still trying to decrease my possessions. It feels great!
Monetise your goods: why not look into what you can get for what you have paid for? Porcelain, books, cookery,… other people would be grateful to use your second-hand goods for their new apartment.
Throw a party: yes! Celebrate your life with your family and friends. Give them an opportunity to say good-bye. Don’t just disappear.
Accept help: from whoever you can think of. There are several blogs about moving. Look into helpful websites in the country you are going to and the foreign ministry’s website
I know, I know. Iceland has been on travel bucket lists and on itineraries of cruise ships. Iceland has become very trendy for layovers before you hit North America. Iceland has been on the news due to masses of tourists entering this peaceful place. Restrictions?
No, do not restrict people to go to Iceland, but show them their wide ranged options. There are hundreds (more, thousands) of places you can stop, enjoy the views, eat, have picnics, listen to music or just hang out for a while. Simple as that:
Iceland is worth every single ISK. Every single euro. Every single dollar. And you will spend loads.
I decided to go to Iceland because friends of mine from the states were getting married. They picked the land of fire and ice to say Yes! and invited me to come along. Well, I am not the only one who followed their invitation. I know Marcus and Gwen from a while ago when I traveled the US east coast in 2012. I met up with them in Prague and Vienna, hiked Torres del Paine in Chile with them and became part of their travel group. As a matter of fact: I am very happy for them!
As well, I am very happy for myself to spend some crazy nice days on an island I would have not gone to this time of the year. These are some of the spots I recommend you to go off the beaten path:
Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavik and the Arctic Fox Rescue Center
As you know, I love stories. I love to tell them and I also love to listen to new ones. Iceland is full of stories and people who want to tell them. I stayed with Mila, in her Helgugata Guesthouse in Borgarnes at the West coast. It was a good deal to stay at her place because only 90 Euros per night, breakfast included is a cheap (plus comfortable) night. She has a three story house, very nice interior and magnificent friends. I met Masha, her friend from Georgia who now married to an Icelandic, lives there, collects Danish design objects and works for the police force as a translator. How cool is that?
From Borgarnes it is only a 2 hour drive to Hólmavik entering the Westfjords. Hólmavik is a charming and quiet little town but has two major attractions: The Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft and the Arctic Fox Rescue Center.
Fisherman Café, Restaurant and Hotel in Suðureyri
Hitting the Westfjords of Iceland was probably the best decision made. Why? Because there were barely any tourists around. Suðureyri is a little fisherman village which as only become part of mainland Iceland through a tunnel in 1996. I was absolutely fascinated of the beauty and rawness of the fjord belonging to Ísafjarðarbær. How did I find out of this special place? I looked up sustainably but touristically interesting tours in Iceland which were off the beaten path. Fisherman Seafood Trail was one of them.
Peter and Eva invited me to be part of one of their tours which was not only a pleasure but mind-blowingly interesting. My guide invited me to a historical, yet foodie tour around the village, starting at the place where the first farm was situated a few hundred years ago. While fishermen were trying to catch the best fish in this raw area between fjords and rough sea, the farmers went to use the little land they had to grow potatoes (only during 19th century) and winter veg. On the plus side their fjord still offers them geothermal energy which means heating, warm water and relaxing pools are not a problem at all. Other than that they figured out how to survive in conditions like these, off from everything else, only reachable through the seaway. They got their protein and fat through dried fish. Hung in open stalls in the winter they could collect it and eat only one filet per week. Of course I tried some!
And now with the hammer I feel like Thor!
In Suðureyri the fish factories gather the most income and help rise economy. Yet, they are wonderful examples how to use everything of the fish, even fish head. On the trail I tasted fish cakes and freshly made Plokkfiskur (see the recipe in the link) !
For a very special getaway from ‘mainland’ Iceland take the ferry to Heimaey, which is part of the Westman Islands archipelago. It is the only inhabited island of the islands south of Iceland with a population around 4.200. The Westmans or Vestmannaeyjar as it is called in Icelandic have a rich history but even richer is their flora and fauna. While walking through lava sand and stones bedded in moss you look up and see the beautiful volcanos Helgafell and Eldfell. The second one only appeared through a major eruption in 1973 when the whole island had to be evacuated to Reykjavik. Houses, streets and everything left were covered in volcano ashes. You can find out more about this tragic yet force of nature event at the museum Eldheimar. I was mostly impressed of how many photos and videos of this time were taken.
Plan your travels ahead
Rent a car or try to find someone to share a car with. I have found so many people traveling from Reykjavik to several destinations, only two or three people in the car. They have space. Use it!
After looking into bus times I decided to rent a car with Budget / Avis car services. It is very expensive and I would rather recommend a different deal. Look into local car rentals like SADcar. I have been following Route 1 and Route 60 for most of my travels there. It is concrete and very easy to drive on. You do not need 4×4 on your car. But it is always appreciated in Iceland to be prepared for the worst.
For going to the Westman Islands I decided to try public transport. I went with the local bus services Straeto (No. 52) to go to Landeyjahöfn to take the ferry Herjólfur to Heimaey. It is very inexpensive to go this way.
35 Euro for the bus ride (per direction)
12 Euro for the ferry (per direction)
More information about the Westfjords and Westman Islands. This trip was not sponsored or funded of any of the companies. I was happily invited to the Fisherman Seafood Trail.
You might have asked you several times how to start being friends with people in creative industries or even better, becoming a pal of someone who actually works as an artist. I do not want to be rude, but no, that is not how you make friends. Since working at a museum which includes a residency program I was lucky enough to organize monthly get-togethers with artists from all over the world in different genres (architecture, music, visual art, literature). Through the AIR Artist In Residence program I have met around fifty artists in the last two years who I got a long with well, did not have a chance to talk any further or who just passed by my time schedule.
I met Conor through the residency program in November 2017. We only had very little time because he stayed for one month only, it was Christmas time and we were both really busy. From what I have observed back then was, that Conor watches and analyses his surroundings very thoroughly. He as a great sense of observation, is sensitive and interested in topics others would describe as taboo. In his daily practice observation is a relevant, if not the most important part,
“For me the art has to be a catalyst for other things, and the work you make has to be a catalyst for debate or discussion, something further. My real drive when I’m making work is to deal with themes like sexism, homophobia, otherness, and being able to describe how otherness – anything but the norm – feels …” Mayo News, 2015
The studio visit was great, because everything is in order…
…and there is also a sign of his residency in Krems.
Look at those precious little beauties!
You always meet twice…
I was delighted when I contacted Conor to meet up again in Ireland. I visited his studio where we talked about current issues like the Repeal the 8th referendum as well as the conflict with Northern Ireland in connection with his current home base in County Donegal.
Observing others in their otherness with sensitivity and calmness is probably what amazed me the most. We took the chance and went to visit several places in Donegal. Letterkenny was probably the most striking ones. As if you could feel the tension between two magnetic poles. Interestingly the Donegal Regional Cultural Centre hosts a variety of art exhibitions, focusing on photography, in a somewhat stunning architecture. The building is designed by local architects MacGabhann which shows how broad the Northern parts of the republic of Ireland are. What I liked the most about it was that Conor and I got a chance to see the already closed exhibition about the border.
Wherever I went with Conor, he was looking for traces of humans on walls, streets, cobblestones or bridges. Stickers, graffiti, street art or other material coming from passing by human beings. He even found a conversation between two teenagers in a playground slide (at least he assumed so). Now, Conor has not only opened my eyes to look at trashy stuff on walls – tags or badges – he inhabits outdoor spaces himself through interventions. I am really looking forward to his exhibition with the Westport Custom House Studios and more to come.
Follow Conor’s blog to learn more about his stories, thoughts and beautiful captures of reality.
It would be weird for me not to write about visual art. I have been working for artists, with artists, in galleries and museum spaces for almost ten years and have usually enjoyed myself. During my bus-roadtrip through Ireland I decided to go further South on the Wild Atlantic Way to visit a town called Limerick.
Limerick as a town has never been bright and shiny to me. Whenever I was there before, I tried to stay inside due to heavy rain or the chills outside temperatures gave me. This time, I visited Limerick with summery vibes and for a particular reason: EVA International!
EVA International takes place every other year and shows contemporary art in various venues. The venues around Limerick are special. Even the usual gallery space at Limerick City Gallery of Art showed off with some amazing work. I really appreciated Patricia Belli‘s monstrous chandeliers. I love their shades when hanging from the ceiling. I was struck by her work at the art gallery at first but the huge factory space at the former Condensed Milk Factory (and then Toffee factory) across river Shannon was another highlight for me.
An important impact on the Repeal the 8th referendum (May 25, 2018 – YES!) had the so-called Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eigth Amendment which also led to a procession for the opening of EVA International. The banners created and designed by the artists are show pieces in the factory.
Sustainable and renewable energy happens to be always on my mind and so far I have no clue how we get out of this story. We need energy. We are dependent on it. Besides, power plants as well as solar plants have structured our environment and are designed to stick around for long. Artist John Gerrad took a very close look at solar plants. Whichever work I have looked at always leaves me with questions. I find it very hard to distinguish between what is real and what is animated… John Gerrard’s Western Flag was part of donaufestival Krems (where I come from!). Small world.
EVA International is on show until July 8. Try to get out there and see it, it is so worth the travel.
In connection with the art fair I decided to join a group of people at Ormston House, a cultural resource center. Words are their weapons at Stanzas which is a monthly get together of poets, writers and authors to perform in public. In addition to the referendum which took place that day, their theme was Vox Populi . I was invited to listen to some great poems about democracy, youth, first world problems and why to use the word shit more often to release stress. Watch my Instagram stories to know what I am up to next, plus, there are Co. Limerick Highlights to catch up with!
Details for EVA International
Limerick City Gallery of Art,
Limerick City, V94 E67F
Details for Ormston House
Cultural Resource Centre
9-10 Patrick Street
Limerick City, V94 V089
This article is not an advertisement, I have not been invited of any of the named corporates.
For a sustainable lifestyle it’s not only important to know where your ingredients, your products and your clothes are coming from. I always try to take public transport. Of course, you are less flexible, you need to look at confusing timetables and the prices seem to be much more higher than just renting a car (which is a myth if you think about fuel and the renting fees). In particular when you are traveling in a group (in this case, I would actually recommend a car). Good points! But if you are traveling solo, like I do most of the time, I tend to have a lot more fun on busses and trains. You meet people, you get to know the surroundings better since you don’t have to concentrate on driving and you can take a nap. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case because I get stuck at the first two advantages of taking public transportation.
My recommendation if you think about taking the bus or the train is to look into prices. Busses (mostly Bus Éireann) are much cheaper and take you into town centre and to places afar from towns. You can talk to the driver to drop you at a different spot or ask where the best path for your hike is. Although you are not supposed to speak to the driver, they usually know their way around well to offer advice. Trains are only available in some towns and the railway system is not as widely connected as you might want to go. For instance, you cannot take a train to Donegal town. Train times are much more reliable than bus times since they do not get stuck in traffic. Plan ahead, and think about puffers for delayed busses (and trains). Always take a book (or better, an e-reader with you) and some music with you. The bus will arrive, eventually and will most of the time run smoothly. Going in and out of Dublin at rush hour is demanding. What is very convenient is that there is WiFi on public transport most times.
Visit Ireland in 8 days without a car
I chose to visit places in Ireland I have not yet visited. One of them is County Donegal, which is way up north, de-located and hardly reachable by public transport. The Wild Atlantic Way starts in County Donegal (or ends there, whichever way you look at it). It is so worth the trip! After visiting some places in Donegal and Northern Ireland, I decided to go down to County Sligo and visit the beach in Strandhill. After two relaxing days there, I took a long journey through Galway into Limerick, where I went to see EVA international. The bus taking me down to Cork drove me through beautiful landscapes, lots of green.
Trips taken in 8 days
I took ten trips on busses and trains in only eight days and decided to go to Coleraine, Northern Ireland, by car with a friend, which was free of charge.
You can easily work your way through with Google Maps or use Transport for Ireland which also comes with an app if you want it on your phone. I did not book way ahead which left me in the position to take whichever hostel had a free bed. So, for high season pre-book your accommodation via AirBnB, Hostelworld or whichever other platform you might be using.
This article has not been sponsored by any of the corporates named.
I really like traveling by myself. Spend some me-time with this person who I spent most of the time with anyways. But there is usually no time to think about stuff which is bothering me or celebrating life. I love to wake up, stretch and breath, watch sunrise and get a coffee. I do not need to speak to anybody in those thirty minutes. I do not need to see anybody. I brush my teeth without anybody watching. I like to be rushed by none but myself. My me-time is precious to me. Although, I might turn into that old cat-lady (without cats) over time…
Three big questions which you will get asked before you depart on your solo trip:
Why do you travel all alone?
If you have ever considered traveling by yourself you have learned quickly, that you’re never traveling alone. There is always someone coming along. There is always someone sitting beside you on the plane, at the airport, at the bus stop, on the bus or the train. There is always a person at the reception, who cares about you (or is not at all interested in what you are doing).
I feel more open-minded if I travel solo. The minute you spend time with a friend, your boy- or girlfriend, a family member or whoever you decide to travel with, you are making compromises and you are always focused on questions like, What are we doing next? Does he/she want to go there? What should we eat? Do not get me wrong, I like those kinds of travels as well and I appreciate to spend time with friends and family. But this openness to share and to let things happen is probably easier to reach just with yourself. You are making all the decisions.
Aren’t you afraid traveling by yourself?
People, especially female friends tend to ask me out of curiosity and anxiety. My typical answer, very courageously put is usually, No! Why should I be scared? But honestly, I am excited to bits. Sometimes I cannot sleep for several days because I am thinking about what will happen and how everything will turn out. Then I read a lot of literature – travel books and guides, blogs and whichever publication comes to my mind – to calm down.
Another thing is, that I have never been in a dangerous situation while traveling. I never felt lost, was never threatened. I generally trust in people and in the good in them. Maybe I was really naive spending over 100 euros for a (illegal) taxi in Santiago de Chile from the airport to my Air BnB. I just hopped in that person’s van and we had a great chat, after which I was ripped off. It sucked. But on the other hand, I felt safe the entire time and I hope he got to spend that amount of money on something worth it. Or there was this time in Washington D.C. where I decided to try to couchsurf and couldn’t get in touch with the person who accepted to share her room with me. But it all turned out well. I had an awesome space to stay at and a wonderful time to spend with people I would have never met otherwise.
So no, I am generally not afraid traveling solo.
Do you ever eat out alone then?
Funnily, I think about eating out in restaurants or grabbing a drink at a bar often when I am back at my homebase in Vienna. How would it be? Should I just head out? What would people think? I am in my comfort zone-mode and it is quite hard to take a chance and just change your point of view. I have just finished reading Kristian Ditlev Jensen’s book Ord I Orientekspressen who tells his stories about riding exciting trains throughout the globe. One chapter talks about eating alone in a restaurant and REALLY enjoying it.
I share Kristian D. Jensen’s problems he refers to in his book:
Shame whenever you ask for a table for one in a restaurant you are kind of pitied. The waiter feels with you. You are unloved. There is no one you can share your table and food with.
Strangers whenever you are eating alone, you are not alone. Like I already said, you are never just by yourself. There is always someone sitting next to you or seated beside you. There might be awkward situations. Sometimes you find yourself in intelligent, nice conversation.
Care whenever shame turns into disproportionate care it is very hard for someone to enjoy the food you have ordered. If the waiter (like in the US) asks you Is everything alright? all the time, you tend to doubt yourself if you are alright.
I like the way Kristian D. Jensen also talks about eating out alone as a feast for yourself. I love the way he puts it. You have to learn to go across borders and enjoy eating out alone. Forget about staring into your phone or try to read a book (seriously, who can turn pages and eat at the same time, I have never really got that!). Focus on the food you are served. What are you having? What’s it smell like? Where does it come from? How is it processed? Do you miss anything? There are so many questions to ask yourself while celebrating this feast with yourself.
Prepare some great meals for yourself…
…and enjoy it!
To be honest, I have enjoyed eating out alone maybe once or twice. But I am not tired to learn. I feel strange and tend to feel ashamed too. If there is anybody sharing the table with me I like to talk to that person. Although it would not be necessary.
I would like to say that I like to eat by myself in a restaurant. Still learning though. That’s what it is all about while traveling solo.
Of course there are many blogs and articles about female solo traveling and how to get on with it (plus which gear to pack if you want to be prepared for any situation):
Traveling can be really exhausting. Hours on planes, busses or in cars means putting yourself into a very still position: sitting. I have chosen to cycle and to walk for most of my journeys. But you need some distraction from what you have been doing the whole day.
Yoga means ‘union’ or ‘connection’. In Sanskrit, the word ‘yoga’ is used to signify any form of connection. Yoga is both a state of connection and a body of techniques that allow us to connect to anything. (Science of Awakening Self-Awareness)
I have learned that not only stretching but the combination with breathing helps me to relax and regenerate.
Adriene has told me some great moves around traveling and how you get yourself open and stretched, strengthened and healthily flexible. In her 2018 20-minute yoga dip-in, she talks about traveling:
Passing the Science Gallery
as well as this beauty
always following the light
to RHA in Dublin.
Exploring a new area or town where you have traveled to through taking a run is mostly enriching. Usually, I decide to step outdoors early in the morning to indulge the first sun rays. Also, I like empty streets, morning groans and waste collection services strolling through last nights parties. I think the colors are different. Running relaxes my mind and I can make plans for the day: where will I go? Who will I meet? What will I wear today? Running is basic and simple.
I have had two major experiences which told me that my body is most valuable. I really need to feel comfortable and healthy while traveling. Firstly, I remember last summer’s road trip to Albania, which I absolutely loved to bits. I might have had some bad food, drank some tap water or there was a virus concerning digestion in our hiking crew. I will always remember how miserable I felt spending hours over hours in a car, wishing for a toilet. Any toilet. Secondly, it was not long ago, when I went to walk Caminho Portuguese and suddenly felt my achilles tendon swelling up for no reason but overwork.
Never forget, you need your whole body (including a healthy mind!) for traveling.
Have you had similar experiences on the road? Please share them with me.