Packing light for trips

I used to be that type of girl, who packed the whole house when going on holiday. So many times I ended up not wearing even half of the clothes. It was very natural and I never thought something will change. But it did, and I am happy ever since.

I was once travelling for a weekend to Geneva, Switzerland with a whole day layover in Venice. I have never been there before, so I was determined to spend the whole day exploring. My friend Cristina lived there, so having even a small suitcase would harden my movements around the city. Naturally, I decided to take the smallest, yet the most comfortable travel bag I owned. Great decision! I did not have to worry about dropping it at a deposit box and to collect it later, thus wasting time. Moreover I arrived at Treviso airport and was departing from Marco Pollo, which was, to say the least, very inconvenient.

As the bag problem did not bother me, I was free to absorb every drop of my experience in Venice. Eating delicious gelato and true Italian pizza, drinking coffee at Piazza San Marco, buying souvenirs and catching up with an old friend – it was all perfect. As a result, we spent an amazing day exploring the city and being guided by a local  was beyond my happiness.

The days in Geneva flew in an eye blink. I could not know, that my boyfriend had a surprise for me in mind. He had a back ticket with him to Budapest. I was beyond happy, but confused about the size of my hand luggage (40*20*7), and the amount of days spent in Hungary. So, with a pair of jeans, a sweater, a dress, a pair of shorts and underwear, I was boarding the plane. Pavlo told me not to worry, as shops existed especially for these kind of occasions. I ended up spending a whole month in Budapest. And guess what? I survived. As long as I had my essentials with me, I was doing great. All I needed to have with me was my computer, as I had a remote writing job back then, and my hair and tooth brushes. I realized then, that I was a super happy human being – I did not need much. Since then, I stick to the minimalism philosophy. I’d rather end up in a new place with no clothes, than have a bunch of clothes in one city.

 

Hiking Samaria Gorge, Crete Greece

Early morning at Chania central station, a crowd in hiking boots and backpacks was waiting for the bus. I was surprised to see so many people, driven by the same goal. All were about to conquer the longest in Europe Gorge – Samaria, 17 km.

Our journey started from the top of Samaria National park, Xyloskalo going all the way down to the sea. We paid our entrance fee of 5€ at the main gates, and joyfully started our hike. At 10 in the morning the temperature was +36. The path was quite steep with huge, slippery stones lying underneath our feet. I caught myself thinking that the first kilometer I never lifted my head up, to admire the nature. First stop by a water point. Quick refreshment of hands and face and the journey continues. When planning your trip to Samaria Gorge, make sure to bring along your food, as there are no places to buy anything. Water is not a problem. You can refill your bottle at many potable water points along the way.

A few kilometers down there is a picnic area and shade! Suddenly you become aware of how many people walk along with you. They do not seem to be exhausted. When you are tired and hungry and your feet won’t walk, having such companions is a great motivation to keep going.

When you reach the midpoint of the Gorge, which is approximately 7 km, you meet more people, you hear stories of how beautiful the other half is, you kill all the procrastinating feelings inside you, top up your water bottles and continue going.

The road is breathtaking. Nature has shaped its landscapes incredibly beautifully, and each step awes you. When you start hearing the noise of a river, you begin anticipating the views that await around the corner. Indeed, it is a beautiful scene and the temperatures drop significantly by the water. The atmosphere is incredibly charged, your whole body is filled with power. You take your feet out of the most cold water, put on your shoes and continue walking.

At some point, you start realizing that there is not much left of your grand journey. The scenes become more and more beautiful and despite the tiredness, you try to remember the surroundings.

When finding yourself at the Exit gates, be ready to show your ticket. Feelings of great satisfaction and happiness are overwhelming your body. You have done it! You just walked 17 km of beautiful Greek nature.

  • I can recommend this trip ONLY to people who are physically fit. It is not an easy journey, regardless if you hike from the top down, or from the bottom up.
  • Your feet and legs will hurt in the next couple of days or so.
  • Only hiking boots or sport shoes must be worn.
  • Sunscreen and hats are strongly recommended.
  • Snacks and water bottles to be brought in advance, as there are no shops in the area
  • You can hike Samaria Gorge from 1st of May until 15th of October.
  • There are only 2 possible ways to get here. Arriving to Agia Roumeli village by ferry boat and hiking all the way up, or arriving by car or bus to Xyloskalo and descent your way down.
  • Both options restrain you by time. The ferry leaves at 17:30 from Agia Roumeli and the bus leaves after 19H from Xyloskalo.

Alamanou Fish Tavern, Limassol Cyprus

sea food platter in cyprus

If you ask any Islander where is Alamanou Fish Tavern, most certainly they will know it. This place is always full with visitors, and weekends visit without prior reservation might turn into a long wait.
Firstly, this place is surrounded by the most beautiful nature. The sea is of all shades of blue and the white stones make the signature landmark of this place. Newlyweds, who get married in Cyprus, come here for the most remarkable scenes and photos.
However, let’s speak about the food. Alamanou offers different kinds of sea-food platters. They are all delicious and it is a good choice for a group of people, whose tastes vary. The tavern offers all sorts of fish, calamari, octopus, shrimps, mussels, oysters, crabs. Despite being a fish tavern, the place serves a wide variety of Cypriot meat dishes, which is great, as not all people can eat seafood. Whenever I have visitors from abroad, this is the place where I take them. A bonus from the restaurant is toasted bread and pita with olive oil and lemon before the meal, as well as complimentary teas/coffees, cypriot desert lukoumades and seasonal fruits, at the end. No one leaves the place hungry.

The restaurant itself is a huge space, with over 1000 pax capacity. The tables and chairs are made of plastic, but you do not pay attention to it. You are too carried away by the beauty before your eyes and by the delicious food in your plate.

Alamanou is not just a place where people enjoy tasty food. The venue offers a green space with comfortable sun beds and gigantic umbrellas free of charge. You only need to buy a drink. Also, there is a special playground for the little ones with bouncy castles and other activities.

 

Goodbye, European Roaming

Great news for all travellers and not only! As of 15th of June, the whole European Union goes Roaming-free. It means that you can text, call or browse the internet in any European country, at the price of your local service provider.
This is probably the best news for tourists from overseas coming to Europe, rather then for the europeans. Our tariffs were made user friendly long time ago, and it did not affect us as much. Now tourists from all over the world can use only ONE sim card across the whole European continent, without being followed by scary telephone or internet bills. It is a great means to stay online and connected anywhere you go. One sim card means saved money, which can be spent on souvenirs, food or that museum ticket that was on someone’s bucket list for a long time. “Roam like at home” will also be available in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein very soon after the 15th of June. Bear in mind, that the package will not be intended for a long usage. It is aimed at travellers and people who travel for work around Europe. It was created this way, to limit someone buying the cheapest option and use it permanently in his home country.
Personally, I have spent quite a sum on sim cards from different countries. However, I am glad i won’t continue collecting them.

How to travel cheap

Those who want to travel, but still think it costs a fortune, I am here with some advice. We live in great times of endless possibilities. And this includes travel, too.

  • When not able to afford a trip with high class airline, choose a low coster. There are so many of them in Europe alone.
  • Avoid traveling on the weekend. Prices are always higher during these days. Unless you are restrained by certain dates, try to fly out between Tuesday and Thursday. Tickets are guaranteed to cost less.
  • Book your flight on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning, 6 weeks prior your trip. I am not sure about the magic behind this trick, however I am using it, and it works.
  • Always! Always clear your cookies. Otherwise the systems remember your searches, and the more often you look for a certain flight, the higher the price.
  • Try avoiding big airports when planning your bookings. The taxes in such places are higher, thus the increased ticket price.
  • Bear in mind the times of flights. The cheapest tickets are the ones with the most inconvenient times : late night or real early morning. However, this might be a solution. The most important thing is, to arrive/to depart during those times when the public transport, such as buses and trains operate. There is nothing cheap in spending 15 euro on a 3 hours plane trip, and 30 euro for a 15 minutes taxi ride. Remember, that most of the hotels offering free shuttle services are operating between 7 in the morning and 11 in the evening. Public transportation times in big cities is usually from 5 am to 12 midnight.
  • If you feel like escaping anywhere, without a certain place in mind, choose the cheapest destination. You might end up spending 30-40 euro for a return ticket, but come back with lifetime memories.
  • In some cases, traveling to one destination and returning from another may be cheaper, then buying a return flight.
  • Keep track of airline announcements of new routes and destinations. I once flew from East Midlands Airport to Tallinn for 1 euro with all taxes included, only because it was a new route.
  • Subscribe to mail marketing of Airlines, or follow them in Social Media to monitor when they offer discounts and special prices.

Hello, world!

Hi, world! I am Alina and I love travelling. I am a professional traveller at heart and passport stamps 🙂  As of April 2020 I have visited 44 countries and territories. Many of these places were my home.

Since 2018 I live in Berlin, Germany. Europe is my home. Here I was born. Here I feel the happiest. Here I know everything with my eyes closed. Also, Europe is the safest place for travellers: we have a unique currency, we pretty much speak each other’s languages, we are very similar as  people – although unique as nations.

Travel makes me super happy. I get very excited when planning and booking trips. This is how I feel alive. I have sent on holidays tens of family members and friends, and planned something special for an impressive number of people. My readers get inspired to start travelling, forget all the cliches, create memories on low budgets, embrace experiences of solo trips, use my tips and trust me with their holidays.

I am taking you with me into my world of travel. Here I will share my knowledge, inspire you and show the world at its best.

Welcome to the world of Travel with Alina.