PARACAS AND THE BALLESTAS ISLANDS

If you start your Perù travel in Lima, Paracas & the Ballestas island is a nice stop in the road to Arequipa. It is a tiny place along the Peruvian coastline.

Islas Ballestas: an half day trip

The islas Ballestas are a natural sight and a great reason to visit Paracas. I never have seen so many sea lions together in my life and is very easy it is to arrange a trip to the Islas Ballestas.

The islands are also called: the poor men’s Galapagos Islands. A trip to the Islas Ballestas cost 5 euros and to arrange it just ask it in your hostel in Paracas. From there a guide will keep you to the port and within a couple of minutes you will be there. Remember to ask the price, you don’t have to pay more than that!

When you arrive to the port you have to buy the ticket and for the Islas and the reserve there is one ticket, so keep this in your mind because maybe they will not tell you. The cost is around 6 or 7 euro.

Tours leave at 8 am and at 10 am. But the waters around Paracas are known to become rockier and weather unpredictable later in the day. The 8 am tour will have calmer seas (resulting in more chances of seeing dolphins!).

I did both the same day, in the morning the Islas and in the afternoon the reserve, which is so beautiful too.

For the islands, you’ll go out in medium sized boats to explore the waters around Paracas for 2 hours. You will enjoy the greatest biodiversity marine fauna & the mysterious Candelabro, a geoglyph carved in the Paracas peninsula of unknown origin, and upon arrival the guide will explain the different theories that exist of this place.

The departure will be at 8 in the morning, and the trip will take approximately 30 minutes until the arrival to the first Island. From the boat you will appreciate the contrast of the sea and the rocky desert of it the Paracas peninsula until arrive to the Island.

And then you see the landscape full of marine fauna. In fact you will be able to observe hundreds and hundreds of sea lions and sea lions babies playing and swimming in the sea.

After having appreciated this impressive landscape the boat will leave for the Ballestas Islands, where you can appreciate rock formations thousands of guano birds, cormorants, pelicans and penguins of Humboldt.

The Paracas Reserve

After a stop in the hostel for an hour, a bus passes to take me for the next tour to the Reserve. The transport is 4 Euros, and the entrance ticket is included in the combo with the Islas. The Reserve was a nice surprise! The Paracas National Reserve is actually an amazing park that you can explore also on your own depending on the time you have.

The first stop is the reserve’s museum, displaying all the animals in the Pacific Ocean and the impact that we have on the waters around Paracas. After this, you will continue to Playa Roja, a red beach with crushing waves on the shore. Amazing views of the deserted land and the wide open ocean. We stopped in Lagunillas to eat fish.. and there I had the most amazing ceviche I eat in Peru, with a good Beer eating in front of the Ocean!

Some info on Paracas

When you go there remember that the local communities are struggling. After the 2007 earthquake (8.0 on the magnitude scale), Paracas was in ruins. It was not the first one, the town was hit hard by previous quakes and this one was the last drop.

Since then, the town was rebuilt from the ground up and flourishes because of tourists visiting the Islas Ballestas. So please, don’t book the tour in Lima, if you are a sustainable traveler, book your tours with locally. Visit Paracas independently, eat out in the town and speak with locals. It is really easy and you will support the people who need.

Read my other article in Peru!

LIMA: THE BEST TO VISIT

Lima, the capital of Peru, has so much to offer, depending on what you expect from a big city. It is one of the largest cities in South America and has a long history behind. You probably will start your journey in Peru in Lima as I did to recover my body from 18 hours of flight. So I stopped in the city just one day and half to go in other beautiful places that this amazing country offer to you.

Lima from the top

So, here are my recommendations.

MIRAFLORES

Miraflores, is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Lima and it is the places where you probably will stay in a hostel during your stay in Lima.

View from larcomar

If you want to have a view on the coast profile of Lima, you can go to Larcomar enjoying a good coffee. It is a shopping center right but the view is amazing. It is built into the side of the cliff and mostly underground, it has incredible views of the Pacific Ocean.

There you can also rent a bike and drive it all along the coast. In fact, with its green parks and the cliffs overlooking the ocean, Miraflores is also the perfect place to go for a bicycle tour. From here you can take a tour into the center of the city, along the cliffs, do an urban tour or combine your cycling trip with surfing!

Miraflores is also the place in case you want to see the coast from the top! Not as extreme as it sounds, paragliding by the coast is the perfect day activity to catch the green areas, ocean and the urban buildings of Lima’s coast with a 360° view.

If you like more History and culture, in Miraflores you can also visit the pre-inca ruins ofHuaca Pucllana. Easy to arrive, it is not expensive and there is the guide in English or Spanish that guide you to understand this piece of history!

BARRANCO

The uber driver when pick me up in the airport told me to not miss Barranco. This district is probably the coolest place in Lima and the perfect escape from Miraflores for a good drink during night. At night, Barranco transforms itself in onr of the Lima’s party district with great restaurants and themed alternative bars both for Peruvians and foreigners.

More than that Barranco has great historical architecture and a blooming art scene. One of the most famous places to see, is Puente de los Suspiros. This bridge connects two main streets. It is said that if you can cross the bridge while holding your breath, your wish will be granted. And below it you can walk till the sea and enjoy a peaceful walk.

Square of Barranco

Read my other Articles on South America!

KIEV or KYIV: THE CITY of THE RECENT REVOLUTION OF DIGNITY

Kiev has a
long history that started more than 1,500 years ago, when around 950 the first churches,
cathedrals and monuments were built. Below, you find a list of the must-see
historical and contemporary attractions in the city.

But what we may not remember is the recent history of the city: in 2014 there was a revolution here, “The Revolution of Dignity”.

In November
2013, the President Viktor Yanukovych announced that Ukraine was suspending
pursuit of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement for which the country
had been preparing for since 2008.  The
announcement led to the largest peaceful protests seen at the Maidan in Kyiv
since the Orange Revolution of 2004.  But
after some time, the Berkut Special Police forcefully dispersed the hundred
student-aged protesters who remained at the square, beating some with
truncheons. The reaction of the public in response to the attack was momentous.
10,000 people occupied the Maidan later that day. 

As the days
went on, more people from all corners of the country arrived in Kyiv. There was
no single leader organizing the protest. 
It was time for Ukraine to rid itself of corruption.  People organized themselves into subunits,
mainly based on areas of Ukraine from where they came. A perimeter was
established with barricades erected to keep the Berkut Police at bay. A self-defense
patrol called Samo-borona was established, its rules and discipline were based
upon the Kozak (“Cossack”) traditions of Ukraine.  Every day after work hours, people gathered
to hear the speeches of community activists as well as politicians who
supported the movement.  Musical &
cultural artists kept the crowd entertained and in good spirits day and night. The
government paid street hooligans, called “titushkas”, to attack protesters,
kidnap activists and journalists and create general chaos throughout Kyiv,
while the corrupt police turned a blind eye to these hooligans.

In February
2014, protesters began a peaceful march through the streets of Kyiv but were
met by Berkut officers throwing stun grenades and firing at them from rooftops.  The bloodiest day of the protests occurred on
February 20,  when government snipers
perched on rooftops shot and killed 67 protesters who were armed with wooden
clubs and shields made from sheet metal or wood. The massacre was filmed by
professional and amateur journalists and widely distributed on the Internet.  By February 22, the shock created by that
bloodshed had prompted a mass defection by the president’s allies in Parliament
and prodded Yanukovych to join negotiations.

ROAD TO THE INDEPENDENCE SQUARE

In mid
January, at Yanukovych’s demand, the corruption-laden parliament rammed through
a series of anti-protest laws that came with severe penalties, making the
country a de facto dictatorship. The peole exploded.

Day 1

Santa Sofia

It is the
oldest Kyiv standing church, built in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, who
incidentally was laid to rest inside. He commissioned the project to
commemorate the site of a victory of Kyivan Rus over the Pechenegs (Asian
nomadic tribes) and to glorify Christianity.

This
majestic 13-cupola sanctuary adjoined Yaroslav’s Palace and became a holy place
of
worship for Kyivites as well as a political and cultural centre. Meetings
with foreign diplomats and treaty negotiations were held here, and the church
housed the first library and school in Kyivan Rus.

The bell
ower, azure and white is 76m high and was finished in 1752. The cathedral’s
upper Ukrainian Baroque section and gilded cupola were added in 1852. Today it
is a museum and contains archaeological artefacts and architectural displays,
such as models depicting Kyiv as it looked before being razed by Mongol invaders
in 1240. To enter the cathedral itself, purchase tickets from the kiosk around
the corner from the bell tower entrance.

Cable railway

This type
of transport is very important for citizens of Kiev because it connects the
upper town with historical part of Kiev Podol. Underground station
"Poshtova ploshcha" and River port are situated near Lower station.
There are only two Сable railways for whole Ukraine that is why don`t miss your
chance to tick "Cable railway" in you ToDo, ToTry, ToVisit list for
Kiev!

Foods!

The
Ukrainian cuisine is amazing. Your food adventure has to include stops at the
popular national restaurants of the city center to taste the traditional
dishes!

Remember to
ask for traditional Ukrainian starter – salo with garlic and toast. It goes
accompanied with a complimentary homemade liquor.

Then, it’s the
right time you taste the most popular Ukrainian soup – borsch. It is made from
cabbage, potatoes and beetroot that gives the soup an intense red color.

After that,
your lunch can continue with  sample
delicious vareniki (dumpling). You may choose from different stuffing, like
meat, potatoes and mushrooms, cabbage, etc.

Combining food tasting and sightseeing is the best way to spend your time in Kiev! And of course drink Vodka!

VODKA SHOTS

Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and
the recent story of Kyiv (Kiev)

After that
you can choose: You can either head underground for a guided "urban
exploration" tour, navigating through storm drains and tunnels beneath the
Ukrainian capital; or if you prefer, you can stay topside for a tour of Kyiv’s
eye-catching street art highlights.

After lunch, you can take a tour through Maidan Nezalezhnosti, where you can learn about the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution visiting the places where it happened.

Day 2: the other side of Kyiv (Kiev)

Andriivskyi Descent Road

It`s the
most historical and famous street of Kiev. It had been playing an important
role in ancient times because it connects the two central districts of Kiev -
Upper Town and Podol (Lower Town). Now it is the most creative street and locals
really like to visit it. Here you will find theaters, a lot of art cafes,
several museums.  Also here you can find
a Ukrainian souvenirs of all types.

There are
lots of things to see, visit and do on one street that is often called
Ukrainian Montmartre.

First you will see the
grand church, designed by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli and
constructed during 1747–1754. St Andrew's church is considered to be one of the
most beautiful Baroque buildings not only in Kyiv but also in Europe. Curiosity:
it is the only church in Kyiv that has no bells.

Going  down to the down town, you will nderstand
that there is a reason why Andriyivsky Descent is called the Kyiv Montmartre:
it has long served as a place where artists and sculptors created and hosted
most popular exhibitions. Many renowned contemporary and classical art
galleries are located here: for instance, Tryptykh, 36, Fortuna, Karas and
Soviart.

The main
exhibition gallery is Andriivskyi Descent itself: the street is full of
paintings, sculptures, antiques, traditional Ukrainian embroideries and various
souvenirs from street artists and vendors.

See my other articles on Europe!

SANTA MARTA: THE DOOR OF THE SIERRA NEVADA

Santa Marta is located in Magdalena department, on the Caribbean coast in the north of Colombia, between Barranquilla and Riohacha.

The city is a good place to stop off if you are doing a tour of the country and you want to go in the Sierra Nevada or to the Guajira Department.

It is one of the most tourist-focused cities on the coast. Its location between the Sierra Nevada and the Caribbean coast makes this city very attractive, especially considering the variety of fauna and flora to be found there.

 It is important also for the historical and cultural heritage, Santa Marta, was a colonial city, where you can admire the colonial architecture and monuments such as the Basilica of Santa Marta, which is a one of the biggest tourist destinations on the Caribbean coast.

As a Caribbean city, Santa Marta has suffered from repetitive British, French and Dutch attacks. The city is steeped in history and legends. One of them, says that Santa Marta´s Cathedral contains the heart of the famous Simón Bolívar, hidden somewhere. In fact Bolivar spent his last part of the life here.

A walking tour is the perfect way to orient yourself within the city and learn about its history and culture with your guide: follow your guide along the beach, check out top landmarks such as the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, and end your tour with a prime spot for watching the sunset.

I was in Santa Marta as starting point for the “Ciudad perdida” I was by trekking! The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is the archaeological site of an ancient indigenous city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It has been a commercial center around 700 A.D., and its population probably ranged between 1,400 and 3,000 inhabitants. Hidden in the jungle for over a thousand years, the Lost City was found in 1972 when treasure hunters followed a series of stone steps leading up to an abandoned city.

From Santa Marta tour operators offer three- to five-day guided treks to the Lost City which include transportation, lodging, food.

Read more about the city!

 

ARENAL: THE COSTA RICA VOLCANO!

The Arenal Volcano is one of the main touristic destination in Costa Rica. It is in the North of the Country and around this area, you can do, lots of things! From the relaxing massage to the trekking to the top of the volcano…. there are several tours that take place in the area surrounding the volcano, and for good reason! You can have access to the rainforest, waterfalls, the country’s largest lake...

First, explore Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal, is without a doubt, the most popular and well-recognized of Costa Rica’s volcanoes. When you arrive there…. You will be impressed by the huge symmetrical cone that dominates the fertile landscape at his foot. From San Jose you can simply take a bus that will bring you to Arenal. For the accommodation, no worries! I arrived there and I searched for a place to stay. I found a nice woman that also had an activity to sell Tour, but she was very nice, as I was a girl alone, so she gave me some good discount. At first I didn’t know if I chose well, but the days after spoken with several other backpackers I understood I was right… good compromise between me and her to have both the best we could from the bargain! I slept for 7 euros, and I bought a tour for the afternoon to the Park and waterfalls plus the tour of the day after to the top of the volcano and last, the passage with the jeep to Monteverde to do the most amazing zip line all for 150 Euros….

Coming back to the national Park…until recently, Arenal was the country’s most active volcano with an average of 41 eruptions per day. The Arenal Volcano is currently in a resting phase, you cannot hike up the volcano itself, but I recommend hiking through Arenal Volcano National Park with a bilingual naturalist guide in search of old lava flow and wildlife.

Slight changes in altitude create unique micro-climates and ecosystems through this region, making it home to a variety of exotic species.

Rest yourself in Arenal Volcano All-Natural Hot Springs

Another amazing thing to do here is to soak your muscles in thermal pools of water! Arenal is also home to several hot springs. Formed when water is heated underground and bubbles to the surface, Costa Rica’s mineral waters have been used as therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. These natural wonders tempt even the most experienced traveler – for a good reason! What could be better than a relaxing warm bath, surrounded by jungle and shadowed by the beauty of the volcano after a day of adventure?

Neighborhood:

Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall

Close to Arenal, there is a little farming town of La Fortuna that is named for its beautiful neighbor, the La Fortuna Waterfall. As one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country and luckily enough, it can only be arrived at by foot (a 15-minute hike) or horseback, if you don’t like to walk. From the lush rainforest greenery, La Fortuna plummets 200 feet to fall into a pool of crystal clear water. Remember: the pool is delightfully cool on hot summer days!

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Tenorio has everything you could want in a tropical forest natural area.  Hiking to the sky blue Celeste waterfall is a highlight, but the hanging bridges in the rainforest and trail to Lago Danta through the cloud forest from the Heliconias entrance are equally amazing.

Celeste Waterfall: At a glance these are what puts the region around Bijagua on the list of the best places in Costa Rica.  From ranger station at the west entrance of Tenorio National Park (El Pilón) to the azure tinted cataract a couple of kilometers to the south.

Many hypotheses, conjectures and beliefs have been brought up about the rier color in a sunny day, intense blue, including that the color was due to the presence of a metal such as copper, the river’s proximity to the Tenorio Volcano or because of minerals such as calcium carbonate and sulfur. But all of those explanations are now known to be false,read more about this....

"To understand the enigma of this matter, one should know that two completely transparent rivers, Sour Creek (Quebrada Agria) and the Good View River (Río Buena Vista), converge to form the Río Celeste. It is precisely from the point of union of the two where the waters cease to be transparent and become light blue for the following 14 kilometers of river. For that reason, this point is known as The Dyer (El Teñidero)."

Hanging Bridges Hike

If you like to hike, another possibility is to hike through a private nature preserve along well-maintained trails and across a series of fixed and hanging bridges with views of Arenal Volcano. It is relaxing and it doesn’t take a long time if you don’t like long trails. A naturalist guide will point out the flora and fauna of the area like monkeys, sloths, tree frogs, and more. Don’t miss the waterfall extension trail at the end of the hike!

The Lake Arenal: the passage to Monteverde

The Arenal Volcano is also the base of Costa Rica’s largest lake, Lake Arenal. With the mighty volcano as its backdrop and the surrounding rolling hills and forests, Lake Arenal is truly a vision of peacefulness. Several activities are here possible: fishing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding are some of the most popular activities enjoyed from the lake. I pass from here with a cruise to reach my next stop… Monteverde. You can most certainly enjoy its added beauty to the scenery.

PRAGUE: MY FIRST DAY!

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic is a perfect mix of architecture and culture. This beautiful city is called the “City of a Hundred Spires” and “Mother of All Cities” and has so much to offer its many visitors.

The name of the city means “Rapids” (as in a river). Old Bohemia meets the modern world, here beauty is never lacking. I hope you will get appetite after reading my article!

Let’s start: the castle and the upper city (Petrin Hill)

I love to walk when the city is quite and not full of tourists, so at 7 am I started my day from the Prague Castle, where from 10 am is almost impossible to take a picture without unknown people included….. It is the official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic and it is located in the Hradčany district of Prague. The castle has been a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia.

A curiosity: it is also the largest ancient castle in the world still alive!

It's open to the public between 6am and 11pm, and you can see the changing of the guard every hour. The gardens are open to the public as well and are a sight to see! If you arrive from the center you will have to do some stairs to arrive to the top…stop there and look the panorama on the city, because it will be one of the best in Prague!

 

Closed to the castle there is also the upper part of the city Petrin Hill…. I stopped in a bench there for one hour just reading a book under the sun in front of the park you will find there… I have also to say that Petrin Hill has the best views of Prague as well as several more attractions: the 14th century Hunger Wall, the Strahov Monastery, Stefanik Observatory, and a memorial for the victims of the Communist regime. It rises some 130 meters above the left bank of the Valtava River and is almost entirely covered with parks.

Remember to drink an original monastery beer when you go down…. To chill a bit in the ancient city!

Charles Bridge

If you are walking a perfect place to go is the “Charles Bridge”: full of people but also of artists…. Really nice also the view from the most famous historical bridge in Prague. Below it you can see the “ Valtava” river and lots of small “pedalo” of all types…

Furthermore, the ancient bridge is not the only one in the city… Spanning both banks of the Valtava River, Prague is home to many bridges – some old, some new, most built in the beautiful Bohemian style that is so characteristic of the city.

Remember also that from there you can see, 2 small islands, where you can go by walking and pass a nice break or have a coffee or beer!

Going down to the city center you can stop also to the “Dancing House” (Nicknamed “Fred and Ginger”), houses a Dutch insurance company. This non-traditional design (to say the least) was controversial at the time because it contrasts with the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings of Prague. The shape is supported by 99 concrete panels, each a different shape and dimension and at the top of the building is a large twisted structure nicknamed “Medusa”

Explore the Old Town Square

Prague lived a history of invasions, but the Old Town Square has remained relatively untouched since the 10th Century. Take in your mind that swarms of tourists’ crowd the historical streets, packing out the restaurants every day. Of course, the square itself is the perfect place to admire the wonderful architecture Prague has to offer and if that isn’t your thing then the various street performers, musicians and merchants that line the streets here will certainly keep you entertained.

GDANSK: THE PEARL OF THE NORTH

Gdansk has a long story, that many people sometimes forgive… it was crucial during the Second World War and a milestone of the labour union fights. It was exemplar for the last point, as the polish people fought with energy against the system and against the established rules to let workers have a better life and recognize their dignity and value. Many cultures, nationalities and denominations you will find here, the city of the Amber, for me special of course…my name says everything…

The location was also crucial because it is at the crossroads of important commercial and communication routes, an extensive port and mercantile traditions.

The dynamic development of trade, fishery and craft guilds and more had their best period in the 14th – 15th century: the "golden age." During this time Gdańsk was one of the wealthiest and most significant cities in Europe.

Furthermore, the religious freedom gained in the 16th century turned the city into a true melting pot of nationalities and denominations, giving it yet another stimulus for development, thanks to the specific "community of differences." It was one of the few such places in the world at the time.

We need also to remember that after the Swedish wars and partitions of Poland in the 18th century, the city was cut off from Poland and in 1793 it was annexed to Prussia.

What followed was a period of decline till Napoleon arrived here. In 1919, the Free City of Gdańsk was established under the Treaty of Versailles, which brought the city back to the elite of European ports.

After that Gdansk started again to be famous… not for a good fact… Unfortunately, in 1933 Nazis took power and fascist terror started to escalate in the city. On 1 September 1939, it was here, in Gdańsk, that the Second World War started with shots fired from the battleship Schleswig-Holstein.

Here the people of the city started to be fighter against a bad destiny. The heroic fighting in Westerplatte and the martyrdom of the defenders of the Polish Post Office opened a new, tragic chapter in the history of Gdańsk. Te city were destroyed and the reconstruction were long and difficult…. . For the whole world, the city was becoming a synonym for the liberation aspirations of Poles.
The tragic December 1970, and then August 1980 and the martial law period are the successive dates symbolizing the fight of the citizens of Gdańsk against the prevailing communist regime. Gdańsk became the cradle of "Solidarność" which was to transform the then map of Europe. History has come full circle. Contemporary Gdańsk - a half-a-million, dynamically developing agglomeration - is vibrant with life as before and again deserves to be called "the Pearl of the North."

 

 WHAT TO SEE

 Street art

If you like street art, Gdansk is perfect! Just four stops from Gdansk Glowny is the Gdansk Zaspa district. This largely residential area may not have many traditional “attractions”, but the facades of its communist-era tower blocks are painted in intricate and often colourful murals.

Visit the museums: “Solidarnosc” Museum and the second World War Mesuem

Gdansk has some of the best museums in Poland and I think in Europe too. Especially because here you will find theSolidarnosc” Museum (ECS: European center of Solidariety) and the second World War Mesuem.  The European Solidarity Centre tells the story of a steelworkers’ strike, which set in motion a cultural movement that spread around Poland and ultimately led to the fall of communism. What you will feel inside is incredible, there are also free auodio guide that will help you to live again those events or at least, if you are too young to understand what really this population passed during the last decades and how the people that really fight for their rights and their freedom act. Nothing compared to the politicians of today…. Both the Museum are modern and opened not so many years ago…. So you will really appreciate the style of those Museums.

Explore the Old Town

It is the most touristy (and busiest) part of the city, but Gdansk Old Town is beautiful and a walk around is an essential part of any visit. Each building carries a story, from the seemingly “medieval” facade close to the Golden Gate (which was actually painted by Soviet authorities), to the statues atop buildings rebuilt after the Second World War. A walk alongside the marina is a must if the weather is good, and the historic Soldek ship is also worth checking out.

Not forgive to pass in Ulica Mariacka, in the city centre retains its pre-Second World War terraces and is now home to a number of artisan shops selling amber jewellery, for which Gdansk is famous.

The sea in Poland!

As I stayed 2 days I decided to go to the sea….. I arrived by fly and I have to admit I was not thinking of long beaches in Poland… my fault…. If you have time just go, take a normal tram ticket and arrive to the end in Brzezno, and from there you can walk to Sopot, the best place to stay at the sea!

 

 

 

 

GOTHENBURG: WELCOME TO THE SOUTHERN ARCHIPELAGO

Closed to the city of ,Gothenburg reachable with a normal public transport ticket, there is a group of small but really beautiful, nice and quiet islands where you can pass a relaxing day, going from one to the another small piece of land.

There you will find a very scenic environment, where pass a memorable day outing for a picnic, swim (if you can!) and go for amazing walks.

These islands are unique and on them 4.500 residents pass their quite life in the middle of the nature. During the summer of course you will find more people on them but they are not crowded and if you are lucky you will enjoy also local events.

Everything is at a walk distance, a human scale so it is very easy to enjoy the surroundings and converse when walking the tranquil country lanes.

The major island are Vargo, Galtero and Vrango all natural reserves. Here remember that special regulations for the protection of plants and animals are applied.

Unfortunately camping is prohibited throughout the entire archipelago.

HISTORY OF THE ISLANDS

The islands were mentioned early in the Viking era. The ships waited in the shelter of the islands before starting out in their long voyages. Viking markets around the sheltered sound are also referred to. During the Nordic wars throughout the middle Ages these islands changed sovereignty.  During the 18th century, the islands became involved in organized piracy. After they changed their focus and became a base for fishing fleets, salting and processing fish oil.

In the 19th century the islands changed and started to be richer, so they became land of holidays for the population.

I was on Branno (with Galtero), Vrango and Styrso.

BRANNO

Preserved Village Street with a local history museum. Here there is a network of Nature trails leading west towards Galtero.

VRANGO

This is a fishing village surrounded by large areas of untouchable nature. There are large harbors and plenty of places to bathe.

STYRSO

It is more a mixture of island and city culture: the community is also compose by farmers and half by fishermen. Here there is also a guesthouse if you would like to pass the night on  the island.

Read my articles on Europe!

KARMOY ISLAND: BEAUTIFUL BEACHES IN NORWAY

Someone said about Karmoy:

“Great and rich your verdant pastures,
Stout against the sea you face,
Karmoy praise your hardy coastline!” (cit: Nils AAroy)

Norway is not only fjords but also beautiful beaches and I was in some of them. With rocks and skerries protecting Norway from the raging sea in the West, Karmoy was historically important for Vikings but also during the Second World War.
What I found there were long, silky-smooth, sandy beaches in bays and inlets and with eternal swells pounding the coast.
Karmoy is also maritime culture, ocean, silvery fresh fish and a vibrant heritage. You can walk in the footsteps of Harald Fairhair who first united Norway in a single kingdom.

An important note to leave you is the origin of Norway: why this Country has this name? Norway was the Way to the North starting from the Vikings considered fundamental for the fishing, commerce and other activities of this places: an historic landscape with views across the narrow strait that brought you to the north…

The Karmoy countryside is both inviting and diverse offering a range of pursuits in the great outdoors, communion with nature and relax. You can just prepare your pic nic stuff and go to discover the island!

AVALDSNES – the first Royal Throne of Norway
Harals Fairhair chose this as the site of his Royal manors. Here you can feel the revival of the ancient facts about the legendary first Norway king that appears often in sagas and songs. The chieftains and kings who controlled the vital “Northern Way” left till today a church that is a history centre and in the East, a reconstruction of a Viking Farm.
Just as info, the Viking era ranged from AD 750 to AD 1100 when people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark made their mark to Europe. The Vikings are mostly known as pirates and warriors, but they were also traders, craftsmen, farmers, fishermen, poets and discoverers. The nation of Scandinavia were established in those times.

VISNES – momentous industrial heritage
This location was a mining community in the 1800s and here lived the most modern and known copper workers of Northern Europe. The Statue of Liberty in New York is made from a copper produced here!

AKRASANDEN BEACH
It was voted as the Norway’s finest sandy beach! I have to say this place surprised me a lot. You can find them discovering the coast between Akrehamn and Ferkingstad. During the year it is possible also to do surf here.. .and if you look for historic things…. You can find some small holes and bunker of the Second War War, just ask them to local people and they will teach you!

SKUDENESHAVN – A charming town
It is located on the outermost southerly tip of Karmoy. It is a place where you can wander about in peace and quiet surrounded by beautiful architecture, taste freshly-made waffles in cozy cafès, shop for antiques and other treasures, or discover great hiking areas and sandy beaches.

VOSS: AT THE CROSS OF THE 2 MOST LONGEST NORVEGIAN FJIORDS

As one of my closest friend lived in Voss for 6 months and I promised her to reach her there this summer I decided to go in Norway. After several stops I arrived in Voss, a little town that is a strategic place due to the fact it is in the cross of 2 fjords: the sognefjiord and the Hardangerfjiord, the 2 biggest ones.

I just described some of the attraction you can find there the easiest if you are on foot!

ATTRACTION

Voss Folk Museum

At Voss Folk Museum you can visit Molstertunet, a farmstead composed by 16 houses. This was in use still 1927 and think that the oldest building comes from 16th century!

The nice aspect is this is an outstanding example of the traditional buildings customs of the area. You can also just go up to the Museum and have a nice view on the city from the top drinking a coffee there chilling on a bench.

To arrie from the station is 30 minutes walking, if you go by car just 10 minutes. Remember that it is daily open just in summer (from June to August) while in the rest of the year it opens just for groups for a new exhibition that they are realizing for 2019.

Voss Church

The church was built in 1271 but it is not in woods as the remained oldest and most famous 29 churches of Norway (the ones with the Vikings Mythology symbols and originally in woods).  The interesting thing is that this is made in stones due to a nobility aspect…. As Voss was a rich town in the past the woods church was replaced by the existing one because the woods was for poor people and stones for rich ones! The church also hosts some concerts during the summer.

Hiking

Voss has a wide range of walks and hiking trails with different levels of difficulty. The hiking season starts in June and ends in October, as said it depends from the weather conditions and altitude. You need to be prepared anyway, so just take your raincoat with you and wear good footwear. If you like to do picnic bring also food and drink with you!

For more info there is a touristic center in the main road of Voss where you can ask info on the suggested hikes and let’s go on your path!

More than this you can also rent a bike and go on quiet and rural roads to attractions such as Tvindefossen and Skjervsfossen waterfalls or for shorter excursion.

Bordalsgjelet gorge

Bordalsgjelet gorge is a natural attraction within very short distance from Voss, 30 minutes to arrive there and other 30 to reach the gorges. It is an easy path as the deep and imposing gorge has been adapted for the visiting public, there are also viewpoint and benches for resting the legs! If there is no snow you can arrive to the gorge. Here you can experience an impressive view of the potholes that have been shaped by the ice and river over the time (thousand of years!).