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.
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.
Excitement and anxiety meet when I think of my trip to Caminho Portugues with my mam coming up. It’s the ideal birthday present, I thought last year and picked Elena’s very helpful links to surprise my mam. Excitement!
Now, just a few days before we leave Austria, we are both a little anxious. How will we survive this little journey – on a personal and a physical level.
Be Prepared! Things I would not want to miss:
One hell of a backpack. I chose a 60L +10L @Deuter pack but tried Lowe Alpine Air Zone and Geoffrey. Before you buy one – do not choose color or design first – try it on, walk with the amount of kilos on your back. Then, say yes! For more information on which backpack to eventually buy, please look up some particular hiking or traveling websites like this one.
A pair of walkable hiking shoes. I am not a big fan of hiking, at least I was not until I went to Patagonia in Chile in 2016. This is why I invested to buy proper over-ankeled hiking shoes which took me blisterless from A to B. In this case, I went for hiking shoes in Winter and took some by Mammut.
Sun protection, lotionwise and on top. Even though I will be starting in mid-April to walk the St. James the sun in Portugal is stronger, more effective and my skin is (after spending months inside) not used to direct sun. I really (yes, really) take SPF factor 50+ with me, just in case. And a hat. Do not forget the hat. Or buy one on your way!
The playlist of your dreams. I know, it is not essential. But it helps you on a personal level to calm down, to let go of anger or frustration throughout the way. Music is a very intense partner when I am traveling. I have started to pick some walking songs… listen!
The lightest travel journal on earth. Also, not an essential. But still, even if you take pictures or think you will remember your emotions and your experiences and even your new friends. Better write it down. I like to end the day with a short story about the day in a hand written travel journal.
Thoughtful prep involve buying the right guide book. I was told that this one is the best to follow (in German). I know that my mam and I will not stay in Pilgrim hostels but in Bed & Breakfasts on the way. I have not booked anything in advance.
I can also recommend these guides:
The Camino Portugués – A Wise Pilgrim Guide to the Camino Portugués from Lisbon to Santiago along the Central and Coastal Routes by Michaela Matynka Iglesias (2017)
While I usually travel with a Canon LSR camera (just a really basic one) I decided to bring an analogue camera plus my iPhone with me. I got these adaptable lenses by thumbsUp! – you should try these. A 20 Euro pack of 3 lenses (wide, fish eye and macro) is very little luggage and still effective.
I suggest not to carry more than 10% of your body weight on your back. I will offer you a packing list before I start the big trip, so keep yourself updated!