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Bundles everywhere
Bundles everywhere

How I love these little bundles. Snug tight on the back of a mother, they hang in there, head to the side, all other body parts invisible except two tiny feet sticking out just above mum’s hip.

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How I enjoy our drives through dense bushland, red, sandy,  bumpy roads, open car windows that let the cool breeze in as well as the dust that hides the driver’s vision as he tries to avoid the swaying truck carrying sacks of charcoal and MANY people on top that drives on the other side of the road.

There is no other side really. The path is small and many are using it. Boda bodas with up to 5 people on them, bikes loaded with roof parts and jerry cans, and pedestrians, male and female, the latter always with heavy loads on their heads.

Graceful they look, these strong women and young girls, walking long distances to carry heavy burdens. They are so skillful!

What fun we had when we were driving down to the river Nile, accompanied by local women and empty jerry cans, fetching water from the river and trying to balance the load on our heads. After only some steps we felt the strain on the back of our necks and we didn’t even try to balance the cans on our heads without the support of our hands. You should have heard the encouraging shouts and joyful laughter of the locals!

Our second last day in Fundo, the fishing village on the Nile, far away from everything else, in the middle of nowhere.

The school grounds are packed with people every day when we arrive. Clusters of people under big shady trees. Long queues in front of the three classroom doors that host a laboratory, a pharmacy, an oncology clinic and a GP consulting room. Important people in white coats sit at tables, the only furniture in the rooms except an occasional wooden school desk and bench.

I love you, Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adventures of a new kind or: It “pays” to work when traveling

It’s actually simple.

I type in the country I am interested in. I read profiles of people I don’t know. I find out about them. Age, profession, hobbies, family relations, nationalities, languages spoken.

I view pictures of houses, properties, people, tourist destinations nearby. I read about challenges, and what help is needed. I read about the number of people that can be accommodated and for how long. What type of accommodation is offered. I learn that we are required to work 5 hours per day, 5 days a week.

Prior to that, I have written our own profile, our age, profession, hobbies, nationality, languages spoken. I have uploaded pictures of us. I have reported the skills we have.

Then I choose. Then I write emails. I get replies. I write again. Ask questions. Get answers. Receive questions. Answer them. I get a feel for the people I exchange emails with.

Then we decide. What time? How long?

Then we book the flight.

And then we go!

And get picked up at the airport. What a service.

 

Is this how it works? Yes, this is how it works.

Isn’t it difficult? Not really.

Does it take time? Yes, a lot.

What if you don’t like it? Well, there is only one way to find out…..

 

The website is called workaway.com

Everything is on there.

It’s actually simple.

 

Not that long ago, and nobody had ever heard of these “websites”.  They never even existed!

Airbnb, Uber, airtasker, trustedhousesitter, aussiehouseswap, coachsurfing and now workaway.com.

How did I ever cope without? What a blessing of modern technology, when it comes to travelling. As long as I am connected to the internet and as long as the battery of my modern device is not letting me down, I am right.

I remember the day when I heard the word ‘internet’ for the very first time. We had neighbours, younger than us and more tech savvy, who introduced us to the World Wide Web. Back then, I thought it was something weird. I didn’t understand it.

Fast forward about 25 years and here I am, like most people around me, addicted to digital technology. When travelling, the best thing is that I can connect to my family and friends easily where ever I am in the world. The second best thing is that I can do lots of things myself (with the help of my dear husband, who patiently helps me when I get stuck and frustrated and puts up with my angry outbursts).

I like to do things myself. And mostly, I make mistakes. Sometimes that hurts. But mostly, I learn and I believe I get better (sometimes). Better at connecting with people. Better at judging pictures and interpreting reviews. Better at finding both good and cheap places to stay. Better at finding a better deal. Better at understanding how other people tick. Better at understanding a different culture. Better at learning a new language. Better at appreciating kind, open minded people. Better at being thankful. Better in believing our world is still a wonderful place full of kind people. I love that. Better at understanding much about modern technology? No.

Okay, we are on holidays. Extended holidays. Twelve months’ holidays, to be exact.

What do you do for that amount of time? Can anyone even enjoy holidays for such a long time?

Well, that’s a good question.

What does one do in 12 months off?

I personally don’t like “all inclusive” holidays. I find the image of a cruise ship frightening. Group travel? Bus tours? No way. Hotel accommodation? Too fancy. Meeting others from my own country? Only if I can’t avoid it. Ticking off famous sites on a busy schedule? No desire.

So, for me, exciting times began with my first airbnb experience. My children gave me a weekend away in an airbnb house in Montville for my 60th. I loved the house, fully furnished, with books in bookshelves and pots in the kitchen, a home away from home. And the owners had moved out into their garage below for the weekend. We had a chat, got some tips on the house and on the surroundings, and were left to our own devices. All went well and we left a positive review on the website, to let other travellers know what to expect.

Well, workaway works just like that. I was keen to try it out this time. For the very first time. My research was broad to start off with. No filters. By reading profiles, looking at pictures and finding positive reviews, I found a number of places that resonated with me. In the end, I contacted two. In two different countries. For free accommodation and food.  Two different cultures. Two different kinds of work. And two completely different hosts. Would it work? What if not? What if we couldn’t do the job or didn’t like the job or didn’t get along with the people?

Well, as mentioned above, there is only one way to find out.

For us, it was a step in the unknown, a great adventure and a rich experience.

We parted with our hosts feeling just like I quoted earlier, only slightly altered:

That was what made traveling appeal to him – he always made new friends, and he didn’t need to spend all of his time with them. 
(Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)
 That was what made workaway appeal to us – we always made new friends, and we wanted to spend more time with them.

Let’s open our laptop and type in the next country we are interested in!

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Where are you going ? Never heard of…

I sleep well in our little cottage by the sea. A sturdy ladder to get to the top. Comfy beds up there. Snuggly and warm. About 70 cm below the roof. So cozy.

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We are on the Faroe Islands, a remote group of volcanic islands.  A small country in the middle of nowhere, halfway  between Iceland and Norway. An autonomous country part of Denmark, with it’s own government, language and its own currency of  “krona” with interesting Faroes’ landscape images on their banknotes.

Our stay here is amazing. Time goes quickly although the days are long. Now, at the beginning of May, we have daylight until 10 o’clock at night.

This is a country of much natural untouched rugged beauty.  We are surrounded by olive green, grassy mountains and rolling round hills, snow capped mountain tops and  ascending meadows  covered in thick, soft moss. IMG_E2434There are amazing, thundering waterfalls to be found around almost every corner, big boulders and massive, steep cliffs that raise above the Atlantic Ocean. There are black sandy beaches and a dark blue sea.

This is a country of harsh climate. We feel the cold air, mainly on our faces and hands (everything else is rugged up) and the strong wind when it blows through our jackets. The day before yesterday, we felt the feather light snowflakes melting on our skin. And the hard hail on our frozen cheeks. Some days we have sunshine and the sense of warmth on our back. Very changeable. On any given day we experience wind, fog, rain, sunshine and snow,  often depending on which side of the island we are and changing constantly.

This is a quiet country. Our village is beautifully still, restful for the soul.  We hear very little. IMG_E2064 Cars, even fewer motorcycles, some pedestrians and bike riders.  Children walking home from school, children on a trampoline in front of the house. Children playing outside, no matter what the weather does.

This is a youthful country. I see many young families, babies in prams, toddlers in strollers, older kids staying close to their parents and many pregnant women as we walk through Tórshavn, the smallest capital city in the world, one day in early May. Today their inhabitants have organised a food festival along the harbour with free tasting of the many beautiful dishes they cook to perfection from the fish they catch here. IMG_2254Almost half of the total island population of 50000 is here today, enjoying a rare day of sunshine and a pleasant day out.

This is a country of animals. First and foremost, there are sheep, about double in number to the human population on these islands. And then there are fish, of course, but also some hares, ducks, white swans, geese and ponies. IMG_E2205And so many birds! We admire the different kinds of birds, so amazingly skilful, as they sail soundlessly with their far stretched wings around sheer cliff faces, seemingly effortless and so graceful. They build their nests in crevices and caves and make screeching and chirping noises as they feed and protect their young. And then there are the puffins, which reside on Mykines, the small, most westerly of the 18 islands that make up the Faroese. It’s a little early in the season for those famous “parrots of the sea”, who breed in numbers of over a million here in colonies. We saw just a few in Iceland in 2016, they are colourful small birds which look almost like a painting with their large red, yellow and black bills. This time, when we do the day trip by boat to Mykines, we are hopeful that we might see some more. We arrive on the island in the middle of a snow blizzard, freezing cold. We are  sitting on deck in order to avoid getting seasick. The trip over is only about an hour, but the Atlantic Ocean is already showing us its force. Thankfully, the weather patterns change very quickly, so we have hardly climbed the steep steps to the little village and the snowfall recedes. We are relieved because the dozen houses on top of the cliff – the only ones on the island –  look deserted and have only one open building  with a public toilet inside available to “defrost”.  No cafe, no shop, no souvenirs. (By the way, finding a public toilet in any of the villages on the Faroe Islands is a rare sight and absolute luxury, but if you find one, it’s always clean and heated!)

Starting our walk up the hill towards the famous lighthouse it only takes another 10 minutes and the sun is out. Even though the climb is uphill and sharp we don’t need to strip even the beanie off our heads. It is still incredibly cold and the wind blows around the corner with fierce power. After about 1 ½ hours we make it to the lighthouse, the small narrow path winding it’s way steep up and steep down, along cliffs and over green grass, passing many sheep, often with their newborn lambs on the side. No puffins in sight. As we approach our decline to go back, we meet a very passionate photographer (another one!) from Germany who is fiddling with all her equipment and mumbling that she unpacked the wrong lens and telling us that she just spotted one single puffin. She points to the sky and there it is! Flying in a big circle out to sea and then “whooshing” past us noisily as if it wants to show us how well it can fly. It takes many circles until all the photographers successfully (and hopefully perfectly) catch the little bird on their screen. How lucky we are! We had never seen these birds fly before and they are sooo cute! untitled shoot-9252-EditWe continue our way back, up and down, up and down, happy with the sighting of our single puffin. We pass many hideouts that are being used in summer by puffins for their homes and nests. All of a sudden, there is another “swoosh” sound above our heads. We lift up our gaze and can’t believe our eyes. From the ocean, hundreds, (thousands?) of puffins come flying in and land in front of their homes. We watch, for about 10 minutes, as these cute birds make it to their homes, in unison. As if the whole tribe has decided: Let’s go home. It’s time to go to bed. So funny. After a while, there are no more. We decide to continue our way back as the boat is coming soon to take us across the ocean again. This time in sunshine.

Still cold, though.

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About the Water and the Sea

For the first time since we arrived just a week ago there is some commotion outside the row of six windows in our cute little cottage, all facing the water. Usually the view is onto an old fishing trawler, quite big, but rather deserted. A few kids might be riding their bikes or rollerblades on the small strip of bitumen that separates the ocean and a little inlet, surrounded by a rock wall. That’s the usual view at dusk.

Today, it is already dark, 10pm or a bit later, but there are lights shining out there today. What’s going on?

Ena told us about a festival coming up here at the end of May but they wouldn’t start setting up for it tonight, on April 28? There is a crane. From what I can see, it looks as if this machine is transporting something big from a boat onto the land. I squeeze my eyes to see more. No, it’s not a boat, it’s a big truck. And then there are lots of cars driving into the area.

What is going on?

There is a knock on our door. Magni comes in and explains. There has been a big whale hunt in a neighbouring village. They caught about 100 pilot whales and now every Faroese is entitled to get their share of whale meat. Do we want to go down and have a look?

Sure, Ron is putting his shoes on. Of course, he may bring his camera to get a few shots.

I am already in my PJ’s and decide to keep watching from our window. Half an hour later, Ron is back with stories to tell and a lot of photos in his box.

He tells me that I wouldn’t have liked the site. He talks about blood, skin and guts. And of big containers the locals use to receive what they are given. Big chunks of black whale meat.

(A few days later we are told that the whale steaks have all the blood still in them, that’s why the meat looks so dark and tastes so good). The people wait patiently in a row while some experienced fishermen in orange overalls skilfully cut the meat on a big table.

Another hour or so, and the spectacle is over. The cars leave, the lights go off, and the next morning the only evidence of last nights surprising event are the seagulls who feed on whatever is left around.

Ron and I are left with a degree of disbelief. What was that? Killing whales? Eating their meat? Every person on the island joins in, gets a feed for free?

In our country, tourists pay a lot of money to go on whale watching boat trips, to see the whales swimming and breeching, playing. In our country they are protected, and here they kill them in hundreds?

Strangely enough, a few nights earlier, around the dinner table at our hosts place, we are told the story about this more than 500 year old Faroese tradition.

To understand the background, you have to know that the Faroe Islands are very barren. Nothing much grows here apart from potatoes, turnips and rhubarb, all the rest gets imported from other parts of the world.  Faroese main industry is fishing, about 97%. So, naturally, fish and potatoes are the staple foods for the 50 000 people living here now. Most of the year the weather is quite cold, temperatures in summer only reach around 12 degrees on average.

Whale hunting in the Faroese is an old tradition and has been a normal part of traditional life. It goes back to the times when people had to hunt for food to survive. Around 10 times a year, a school of pilot whales or dolphins is detected by fishermen. When that happens, the police get informed straight away. They let everybody in the village nearby know about it. All the men in the village will stop whatever they are doing and make their way to the water. Between 30 and 50 fisher boats leave the harbour to encircle the animals and bring them into the bay. The men on the beach enter the water with spears and knives and quickly kill the huge animals. Then the carcasses are brought to shore and get cleaned and cut up, divided into parts. Every community member gets a share of the nutritious meat for free to take home.

Ron and I talk it over in the next few days, discuss it further with our hosts and their extended family. It is a very strange, alien concept for us and we had no idea about this tradition unique to the Faroese before we came to the islands. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to be part of this event and to be told the background. Without that, I may have condemned the people for what they do (coming only from the perspective I knew before) rather than start to understand the local perspective.

It makes me think: How often do we judge others? I am guilty of that many times. How often do we put in the effort to listen and learn about other people’s background and perspective? How often do we change our point of view in the light of someone else’s?

Big lessons to be learnt once again while travelling to a foreign land. For me, this is a great way. In fact, for me it is the best way. I learn by doing, by seeing with my own eyes, by touching, by trying it out and making mistakes.

Much better than just reading or hearing about it.

 

I go through another tangible learning experience while we are here. This time, it concerns the environment. Here in Vestmanna, our job in the “workaway” set up is to help paint a fishing boat. Ron and I both enjoy this work, we have done a lot of painting in our wooden Queenslander at home, so we are “experienced” hobby painters. It’s great working outside, in the famous Faroes’ fresh air, even though the cold temperatures and frequent gale winds freeze our noses and make the paint detach itself from the brush. We learn to hold on to loose objects on deck so covering the area with newspaper like we do at home would be of no use here.

The paint for the outside of the boat, white edges, green deck and black walls on the outside looks bright and cheerful, and it is thick and oil based, ideal for the rough weather conditions it has to withstand all year round. One afternoon, after finishing the green deck, we clean up the boat and manoeuvre the remaining paint, trays, paintbrushes and tools over the steps onto the metal jetty. It’s a little balancing act, but we manage well. Just then, by accident, the tray with the green paint tips over. Thank God, there isn’t much left in the tray. But straight away, the paint runs through the metal grid of the jetty into the crystal clear, pristine ocean water underneath. You should have seen the mess it created. It left an oily film on the surface that spread everywhere. In our desperation, we try to get the blobs of paint out of the water with a long handle broom, but it’s ineffective. Eventually, the whole oily film thins out and the next day we can’t spot it any more. Phew!

For me, that was a learning process. Sure, you have heard of oil spills in the ocean, from leaking oil tankers on the news, you have seen the pictures online. But seeing it with your own eyes, the damage a little blob of oil paint leaves in pristine water is devastating to watch and makes this whole problem so much more real.

It made me feel very distraught. I will be extra careful next time. That will not happen again.

 

 

 

 

 

Next Stop – Republic of Ireland or: New Adventures of the Airbnb – World

10 days of leisure – no workaways, no nothing, just enjoying ourselves.

That was the plan.

Bus trip from Belfast to Dublin airport. Hiring a car for 10 days.

Brand new sky blue Renault Clio. What a treat!

Travelling down the coast to County Cork.  Our new friend in Northern Ireland has given us some insider tips (I love getting ideas from the locals) so we decide to stop in Kinsale for the first two nights.

Our first Airbnb. Normal private house, a little out of town. To get to it you have to drive through very narrow lanes up and down hills, very close to houses, hedges and stone fences on both sides of the road that look like our Kanaka walls back home. Beautiful, reminds me of the narrow streets in Italy/Spain or Greece, that make driving very exciting for good drivers like Ron and a nightmare for not so good drivers like me….Anyway, thanks to Ron’s ability we make it there without a scratch on our brand new Renault and are welcomed warmly by our host. Well, the warm welcome was the only warm thing on our first, very cold night in the Republic of Ireland. As we inspect our airbnb room we notice that it is clean and nice, however, chillingly cold. Our host assures us that he will put the heating on. We request 2 wine glasses and a hot water bottle.  We are served straight away and I must say the hot water bottle, covered in a pink “plüsch” coat saves our first night. (And the red wine as well, I may add).                                                                                                                             The next, rather unusual set up is the “Jack & Jill” bathroom which reminds me of my early days of uni life. I had a boyfriend who lived in the students’ quarters, having his own room, but sharing a bathroom in the middle of two rooms with his fellow student. As a young person you might find this arrangement interesting and enjoy investigating the likes of the one living on the other side of the shared bathroom. As a 65- year- old, however, sharing the bathroom with two young teachers from America, seems a little odd, especially because you HAVE to lock THEIR door to the bathroom from the inside if you want to use the loo, but NEVER forget to unlock their door once your business is finished. Anyway, if one is flexible as a 65-year-old, one can cope with little inconveniences like that. The next morning, we find the room still chilli (and the hot water bottle has lost its warm appeal and remains as a rather sad “add-on” in our otherwise comfortable bed) so Ron and I decide in a hurry to use the bathroom as quickly as possible before the two Americans wake up. You don’t believe we are fast enough? Oh, yes, we are. No matter that the shower screen door is falling off in the process as we hurriedly jump under the HOT shower. Success!                                                                                                        Downstairs in the kitchen we meet our fellow travellers at the breakfast table. They are young indeed, two young women, one extremely skinny and the other one extremely – what should I say – on the other side. And – probably, because they hadn’t had the chance to use the bathroom as yet the rather proper one presents herself in a vey short summery nighty hardly covering up any of her rather proper curves. Anyway, that distracts Ron only a little and the conversations around the breakfast table are interesting and focus almost entirely on the education system in Great Britain where these two teachers do their “teaching abroad”. Our young neighbours leave after breakfast with the result that we can enjoy our cold room and the “Jack & Jill” bathroom all to ourselves the second night.

From Kinsale going west, we arrive in Castletownbere, another insider suggestion. The area is called the Beara Peninsular, situated south of the much better known and much bigger Ring of Kerry. It turns out that this will become one of our favourite landscapes on Ireland’s west coast,  less frequented by tourists than the neighbouring Ring of Kerry and at least as spectacular.

Our airbnb in Castletownbere is actually right next door to a haunted castle that reminds me a lot of Hogwarts.I fear the worst and ask in my pre-booking stage whether the accommodation has a warm room for us. When we arrive at a very nice looking house (also a bit off the beaten track), we are welcomed by a friendly young lady. As soon as she opens the front door we can feel the warm air inside. Ah, so nice. We are shown our room and bathroom, plus a sauna that we are welcome to use plus a comfortable lounge room with leather couch, open fireplace and huge flatscreen tv plus a roomy kitchen with a full fridge. We are told we can make use of all, if we are so inclined. And so we do. Unfortunately we are too tired to heat the sauna that night. Since the Beara Peninsular is very picturesque and beautiful and we want to explore it more, but have already booked a B&B for the next night, we ask our friendly host if we can come back the night after. No problem, we are told and the house key is handed to us to take along and use it two days later for entering his house again.

What a trust! A truly genuine airbnb experience once again. The world is still a good place with mostly nice people.  And all under $ 100 per night.

What a blessing!

From the Beara Peninsular we travel a short distance north to a place called Kenmare. From there we explore small parts of the Ring of Kerry (as mentioned above, too many tourists for our liking) and travel north to the County Clare. Our next airbnb experience is with Jenny. Our host is situated in a small place (oh, how I love these small places, off the beaten track). On the website she had advertised her place with pictures of a huge, spacious bathroom just for ourselves and of a sumptuous breakfast table. We arrive late in the afternoon and Jenny welcomes us outside her house with two lazy dogs that are too fat to move or even bark. Jenny welcomes us into her house which smells very clean and is furnished with a bright blue soft floorcovering which leads us along a chandelier up the steep blue covered stairs onto the first floor. Everything is as described online, the room is nice and roomy (and also smells very good), we even have a piece of chocolate each and handmade soap to take home. The bathroom is huge and just for us and the towels are 5-star- hotel quality. Jenny is very knowledgeable about her local area and likes to talk, so by the end of our extended and varied breakfast we decide to do the walk along the Cliffs of Moher.

Walking from a small fishing village called Doolin, the way to the main point of interest is about 2 1/2 hours and 7 km. A worthwhile exercise. Hardly any tourists, beautiful, clear weather and fantastic scenery, spectacular and breathtaking views and in parts quite scary as there are no fences and the path is VERY narrow and close to the edge of the 203 m high cliff wall, abruptly falling down into the constantly churning sea. At the start of the walk, Ron spots a sign for a Shuttle Bus to bring us back.  That’s good to know. Well, with our added photo stops (and there are plenty), the Cliff walk takes us about 3 ½ hours or even 4. Hag’s Head, the main point, is full of tourists and plenty of buses, but sadly, no shuttle bus. Is it too early in the season? Anyway, with our rather tired legs we are undecided what to do. Eventually, Ron remembers earlier days in his life and suggests hitch-hiking. Well, well. We give it a try. No idea whether it is our grey hair or hitch hiking is in fact an extinct adventure, but no single car is willing to even give us a wave. The road is narrow and it is dangerous to be on it as a pedestrian, no matter which side we position ourselves. Thank God, after a while, there is a gap in the fence and we find the Cliff walk path again. Hurray! Another 3 hours later, we collapse in Doolin and enjoy our well deserved Guinness.

Our last stop before heading back to Dublin is County Galway. This time, our two nights airbnb is in a very small village, between the mountains and the sea in Coonemarra.    We are given the entire garden shed, containing of bedroom, bathroom (tiny this time) and lounge room with attached kitchenette. This time, our device of getting our home cosy and warm is a small fireplace in form of a round solid fuel stove that gets heated with turf, which is cut locally and dried with much difficulty as the area is well known for constant rain. We feel like stepping back in time. Our host is a very friendly local artist who- as we find out – is very involved in local activities, historically and environmentally. We are told that the tiny community is very active in preserving the local, mostly sad history and the beautiful landscape. Again, we are supplied with loads of local knowledge and given advice on places to visit where there are no other tourists. We REALLY appreciate those tips as they get us into parts of the world here in Ireland that are pristine and unspoilt. How blessed we are to be able to see these parts of God’s wonderful creation!

And- to top it all up- we miss the rain! Sunshine where we are!

Last stop in Irleand : Dublin

Airbnb for two nights in an attic of a private house in the seaside suburb Clantarf. Three minutes to the beach  (mostly mud flats, but nice to walk along) and the bus stop to bring us into the centre of Dublin in about 20 minutes. We are experienced travellers by now, leaving all our heavy suitcases in the car and just carry the absolutely necessary items up the two flights of narrow stairs. Again, we are getting spoilt. Breakfast provided, milk, water and orange juice in a little bar fridge outside our door, and – to top it off, a plate of local smoked salmon! So yummy!! The salmon we usually buy from Aldi back home is tasteless in comparison. Dublin is well worth a visit. Ron and I explore many parts of it by ourselves on Easter Sunday. Many tourists about, nice, sunny spring weather and a good atmosphere.

As our final day approaches, we are offered to stay in our airbnb without any extra costs until well into the afternoon. Airbnb hosts, you are wonderful and your hospitality is impressive.

Our flight to the Faroe Islands leaves at 8.25 pm.

What I have learned in Ireland

  1. The Irish are a proud people.
  2. They have a long, old history of conflicts and suffering of their people.
  3. Their Troubles are contained, but not resolved.
  4. The outcome of Brexit negotiations is crucial for Ireland’s future.
  5. Spanish fisherman fish in the waters of Ireland, as part of the European Trade agreement.
  6. The Irish drive too fast, but there is no road rage.
  7. There are many smokers in Ireland.
  8. The Irish people are very trustworthy, open and friendly, and have a great sense of humor.
  9. The Irish island is stunningly beautiful and one visit is not enough to explore all of it’s beauty.
  10. Guinness doesn’ t taste too bad after all.

 

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Second Stop – Northern Ireland

We had exchanged many emails in the preceding months.

We felt good about this adventure.

Admittedly, this was usually done by young people.

So what?

 

We flew to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

And got picked up by our very first “workaway host” Chris.

Taken to a massive old house.

Introduced to a friendly wife and three cats (two black and one three legged)

Provided with a big room and three hot water bottles because the night was cold.

These were our first expressions.

And after that?

 

 

Taking out weeds from the massive, beautiful garden beds.

Observing the first signs of spring –

A field of daffodils, a group of ladybirds on green leaves,

Nights out in the local pub with traditional Irish music and MANY glasses of Guinness.

Lunches with quirky, local artists and international family members.

Wonderful yummy home cooked food every day and many cups of tea.

A week of new experiences.

 

And visits to Belfast.

Learning about the history of the Irish people.

About Catholics and Protestants, Unionists and Republicans,

About a wall that separates Belfast like the wall that separated Berlin.

About The Troubles and a conflict not resolved, but contained.

About Brexit and what that means for Ireland.

A week of learning.

 

We visited the giant causeway like “normal” tourists.

We learned about the Irish giant with the name of Finn.

And how he tricked his counterpart from Scotland.

We learned about how the Irish make a picnic.

With hot soup and egg and bacon sandwiches.

And how the Titanic was built.

A week of enjoyment.

 

Great stuff, this “workaway”!

To be repeated and extended.

Looking forward to the next adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Step – London

Well, we got there.
Eventually.
Leaving Brisbane and our family behind, we flew to Taipeh and from there in an almost empty, new and BIG plane to London Gatwick. If all planes from China Airlines are empty like that one, I can highly recommend it! Legroom available on an exit seat, and in addition three seats to stretch out pretty much wherever you wanted – except business or first class, of course – was a real treat and made the 14 hours travel quite comfortable.
Public transport to our first airbnb in Westcombe Park, near Blackheath, was pretty carefree, too.
Nice little older suburb with detached houses along a slightly ascending road with regular bus service, two pubs up the road as well as a beautiful cafe run by two Turkish brothers for our breakfast was all easily accessible by foot.
Next day off to Notting Hill with its beautiful coloured house fronts and Portobello Road market.
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Leaving Home – again

IMG_0103Well, we did it again.

I don’t think I have ever been that exhausted.

We packed our life away.

Living in the same house for about 25 years results in collecting lots of “stuff”.

But – in the end- we succeeded.

Everything packed away, fridge emptied, off to Brisbane to farewell our family.

 

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