Solo Female Traveling

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…

Lucie in France
Dress up, make the most out of yourself. © Lucie Täubler, 2018

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.

Lucie in France
Get yourself a bike, a car or whatever you want to travel about. And explore where you are! The world is yours. © Lucie Täubler, 2018

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.

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):

Janice and Tracey’s Female Solo Travel Tips, find them online and in a book. I really recommend to read through their adventures. Two lovely women I have learned a lot from.

Nomadic Matt’s Female Travel Advice, is very helpful too and you can get sucked into all the information given. Be careful 🙂

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With Your Body

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

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:

 

Running

 

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.

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Explore Dublin in your running shoes. © Runtastic, Lucie Täubler, 2017

Overload

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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.

At Caminho Portuguese

I have learned from several films about St. James way in Portugal or Spain or even in France (Saint-Jacques … La Mecque or Ich bin dann mal weg) that the Pilgrims’ hostels/auberges are crap. I am sorry. I know you should clear out, push yourself to a limit and sleep with 40 other people in a room. Maybe to connect or to share your stories. No.

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Following the yellow arrow through Northern Portugal leads you through small villages and happy greetings of the Portuguese people.

As I already told you, my mam and I were planning to walk parts of the Caminho Portuguese because it is supposed to be beautiful, mind-blowing and extraordinary. Well, it is! We did it and picked those lovely quintas, run by wonderful and charming people. Spend more than just one night there, take a weekend trip to the Portuguese country, just outside Porto. If you choose to take a car it’s simply 30 minutes from Porto, you can also rely on bus- and train service.

Enjoy the quiet. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the greatness of life.

Quinta da Cancela in Balugães

You arrive at Jorge Pedro Reis and Graça Viana Reis’ casas and feel like home immediately. After a long day of walking I arrived, sweaty and hot with swollen feet and exhausted legs, at Jorge’s quinta which seems to be heaven on earth. Orange trees blossom and have fruit at the same time, cold spring water collected in a fountain where I could cool my feet. Places to sit down and chill out, relax: everywhere. Architecturally, the old quinta has been refurbished and reinstalled, but got also some new adaptions. You have the option to stay in one of the three casas (Eira, Quinta or Lagar).

 

From Balugães you can easily take two or three day hikes to explore the countryside or simply stay in and read. You can even enjoy the seaside, the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean is right around the corner; it showed itself tender and nice as well this time. Also, book yourself a dinner for just 30 Euros and enjoy Portugal’s culinary to the fullest:

Contact

Jorge Pedro Reis
Rua Cândido Batista de Sousa, 275
4905-031 Balugães
+351 964 075 700
geral@quintacancela.pt

Antonio’s Quinta São Miguel de Arcos

Reaching Antonio José Rodrigues’ wonderful quinta in Arcos is a pleasure. For your feet and your heart. The very small town lies in-between seaside (Vila do Conde) and countryside (Barcelos). It felt like traveling back in time. I opened the huge wooden door and wandered through stone houses, bright alleys and extraordinary gardens. Staying in one of the apartment rooms with kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom, you have total privacy. But I even had the pool to myself (yes, the pool!). Unfortunately, late April after a season of just rain it was too early to go for a swim, at least for me. But May should be fine to enjoy the pool.

Stay here as long as you want. You can drive, walk, bike or whichever vehicle you choose to Barcelos, the closest town and enjoy the heaps of Portuguese wine. Vinho Verde is the wine region called and also its wines Northwest of Porto. I was offered to enjoy the “green wine” most of the time. António makes his own wine, just for fun and for friends.

If you are busy getting married, the Rodrigues’ place is your choice of heart. They own a beautiful wedding parlor, with gardens connected and serve amazing food. Plus: you can stay right there after ceremony and party.

Contact

António José Rodrigues
Rua da Igreja, 209 Arcos 4480-018 Vila do Conde
+351 919 372 202
ajr@quintasaomiguel.com

Pictures of my Caminho Portuguese adventure:

Caminho Portuguese 2018

Sustainable Glamping with Style in Carinthia

I really do not like the word ‚Glamping‘ which is a combination of Glamour and Camping. Why don’t I like it? You might ask yourself, and still it’s in the title. Well, I had the chance to travel with Austrian Umweltzeichen (find out more about Umweltzeichen here) to three different camping destinations – without a tent. The camping fans around here might shout out loud, Then that’s not camping at all!

I agree. But still, I had the advantages of camping – being within a natural surrounding, close to a river, a little aside of the next village and: in peace.

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So where is that, this peaceful camping I am talking about? I found it in three camp grounds in Carinthia, the southern parts of Austria.

Alpencamp Kötschach-Mauthen 

#umweltzeichen Tag 2

The more Sepps, the better

Again? Another Sepp?, I thought to myself when I met Sepp Kolbitsch, the dynamic founder of Alpencamp in Kötschach-Mauthen. He is the second one within the last 24 hours. The last Sepp I have met was rather far away – speaking of Austrian distances – and was called Brandstätter, producing Gailtaler White Mais. This Sepp really made me dizzy after a few minutes. He is passionate of what he does here in Kötschach-Mauthen. He talks about the development of Alpencamp, his research with TU Vienna, his ideas and of course his plan for me in the next couple of days.

I will show you our general heating which is easily accessible for visitors. I know, it will be extremely technical but I want to let you know how we use our resources. – Sepp is starting of with some basics about his research project around the camp ground which can be looked up online. The heating is close to the main building and is able to learn. It is in charge of warm water which means it saves the heat and even stores it, to pull it off when a lot of camping guests want to shower at the same time (in different showers…). It amazes me how sustainable a camp ground can be.

We try to save water everywhere, we know how precious it is. We invested in sustainable shower heads. Instead of 20 liters per second, we cover only 4 liters per second, which is a huge difference… – Is that a problem if you want to wash your hair,… like long hair? – Not really, is the quick and true answer. The amount of water and pressure are perfect.

The food

Go to Valentinalm! It was total delisih to try their Kärntner Kasnudeln (Carinthian special pasta filled with cheese and covered in buttery chives)

Be active

After spending the morning at the camp house (made out of wood) take a run at the stream Gail which passes by. Or give the e-mountain bike a try.

Also, the amazing hiking paths around Kötschach-Mauthen are worth a try. Sepp number 3 turns out to be Sepp Lederer, who takes me to Plöckenpass to the Italian border. Mauthen, one part of the double village, is a Hiking Village (Bergsteigerdörfer) and Sepp is the main guy to ask about hiking paths, stories around hiking and flora around here. He has written several botanical books… so if you are there, try to find him!

Camping Rosental-Roz

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Quantastic!

Just a few kilometers from Gailtal into Rosental at the Slovenian border you find Gotschuchen. The wonderful camp ground is at a small lake. And here, there is it: peace! Katharina Kupper-Wernig and her team are full of energy and good vibes – they might not even stress out in peak season. Funny as it is, I am meeting the first guest who arrived at the camp ground 40 years ago. He was purely equipped for rain when he came here – and it was pouring rain for days – and he found shelter here. So I am glad, Camping Rosental-Roz is also made for non-camping experts.

Are you interested in quantum physics? I have found out that next to the main house Katharina’s husband Samo – himself researcher and professor for quantum physics – build EXPI (House full of experiments). It is a huge try out laboratory for children and adults. You may be working with the CERN or how acceleration of gravity works out…

Camping Rosental-Roz is due to its owners always space to be researched to be more sustainable.

The food

No one can beat Katharina’s breakfast. More! More? More! And of course she uses local products from the village our close by. The marvelous honey is produced by Michael Mlecnik who lives just around the corner.

Be active

Just walk to Radsberg, which is located North to river Drau. Apart from hiking you can also try paragliding.

But again, running is a very simple task next to a river. In Gotschuchen and around the small village there are several trail-running paths.

 

Ferien-Erlebniswelt Mössler

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Mystical mysterious Lake Millstatt

Finally it is raining and the drive to Lake Millstatt shows how mysterious Carinthia can get. At Ferien-Erlebniswelt Mössler I meet Georg Mössler who owns the campsite in Döbriach. Again, he is like Sepp and Katharina innovative and takes a lot time to research into new ways to save energy and water. There is enough space for families to hang out and play, to young or old couples to spend their holidays or to camping newbies to try out the mobile homes. I love the pool (Hello, Clamping!) and my little walks through the rain to the lake. On the way you pass several trees which refer to Celtic times. I imagine myself sitting there and relax. Or even meditate. Do yoga.

Döbriach offers a lot of options to spend rainy afternoons in the museum – like Sagamundo or just have a coffee and relax at the terrace.

The food

After a few hours on the mountain bike (with out e-) I am always really hungry. Charly’s See Lounge directly at the water is like beach but without the sea. Have a salad! It’s absolutely delicious! Oh and of course there is also beer. Uli Bacher, beer lover and brewer, opened a brewery not long ago: Shilling.

Be active

You can do so much here! One of my highlights was Gottlieb Strobl’s rowboat trip from one end to the other. I have never rowed before and was pretty messed up after a little go… but see yourself…

And as I already said, biking is huge here. You can go round the lake in just one day, 39k, up and down, sometimes with a great view onto the lake, sometimes in the forest.

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I am so happy I made my way down to the southern parts of Austria to meet three wonderful Sepps, Katharina, Georg and their families who understand how to innovate their camp sides and to make glamping great again. 😉

Find more pictures here.

*Thanks to Umweltzeichen for organizing this trip and for my travel partners Elena, Sabine and Tom and Angelika. 

A Trip to Porto and Camino Portugues

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!

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.

 

Schedule your time!

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:

Bring your camera (phone)!

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.

Furthermore…

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!

And: do not forget to get yourself a Shell of St. James to carry with you.

Talk soon, Lucie

 

Lynn

You find yourself on roads which seem to lead nowhere. From Dublin it takes you approximately 1,5h. Going off the motorway, following the road which leads you to Killea, near Rosscrea. I am looking for Lynn Kirkham, artist and traveler, woman in her fifties who decided to move to a little barn, in Tipperary.

Sorry, do you know where Lynn lives, the basket-lady?

Looking at my friend’s description of how to get to Lynn’s studio in the middle of nowhere, I had to stop downtown Killea. Which consists of a primary school, a church, a pub and a cemetery. Fortunately, the pub owner was there to lead me the way – third left after the church, up the first hill, then left again after a mile and it is right there. I got lost, still. After backing out of a cattle farm, I instantly had to get out of the car to enjoy the view. It was raining, but clearing up after just two minutes. I inhaled fresh autumn air. When I found myself at Lynn’s place – called Greenmantle – I was fascinated how wisely she restored her little home: Seeds and dried flowers, a green house for fruit and vegetables on her patio. Bringing her horses to Greenmantle meant she needed land. Bringing her art meant she needed a studio.

 

Lynn is a tall, skinny but strong woman. I remember her wearing working clothes, wellies and a hoodie to cover from the cold. She has a friendly smile, always in thoughts and seemingly happy about what she has achieved already. Proud to be an artist, to know a lot of people around Ireland and the world, and most impressively: being a very generous and flexible host for foreigners (and family) in her house. Volunteers come and go, working at the house, making breakfast and sorting out little things for Lynn. Also, volunteers are working in her studio to help with commissioned public art.

Massive, but fine lined creatures are part of her work. Lynn uses steal constructions to build skeletons for her sculptures which usually depict animals. I have passed some of her work regularly, at the roundabout in Newbridge, Co. Kildare or the Irish National Stud in Kildare Town. Horses. We can only put together a few pieces at a time. We construct them onto their skeleton and take them off again to work on the wood Sabrina her current volunteer tells me with awe. Look, what she made! She is such a great support pointing at man sized woven sculpture, Lynn smiles at Sabrina and me. I can feel how grateful she is about her apprentice and the useful help. The type of wood Lynn uses has been found somewhere, at rivers, in the forests. It is of charming shapes, seems to be kind of magical, stored outside of the studio. People bring it, they call her and offer it, or she collects it from wherever it happens to be.

The very particular about meeting Lynn was to talk about her traveling and writing it down to publish a book next year. Taking her horses out into an Irish summer, barely raining, and traveling with them from East to South, up North. She met friends, made long lost contacts and stayed with herself, in a tent. I experienced Lynn to be a down-to-earth person. She helps and supports people and ecology.

My aim is to make accessible and meaningful artworks, especially site specific; public art and community projects with an emphasis on creative development and upholding traditional skills. I grow, harvest & process natural raw materials and often use reclaimed and recycled resources.

Sometimes you find yourself on the road to nowhere. But you are somewhere and you go there to experience the new.

How to find Lynn:

  • You have to go there by car but of course there is always the possibility to share a ride too.
  • Lynn Kirkham, Greenmantle Bohernarudda, Killea,
    Co. Tipperary, Ireland
  • Website | Facebook | Vimeo